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From The Socialist newspaper, 17 January 2003

Hackney Trade Unionists Attacked

AT THE end of last year Hackney council made vicious attacks on union activists. They suspended the two job-share UNISON branch secretaries Brian Debus and Will Leng and the branch equalities officer John Page.

A Hackney UNISON steward

All three are facing the sack but council workers responded swiftly with an angry protest lobby.

The council justified the suspensions by calling a draft UNISON report on Hackney Council's race relations "defamatory and libellous".

Hackney is the only borough in the country on which a critical non-discrimination notice has been served twice by the Commission for Racial Equality. The report argues that since the last notice was served in the year 2000, little has changed.

After threatening UNISON nationally and regionally with legal action, management suspended the three branch officers. Meanwhile the council is moving on with plans for restructuring, which could mean further plans for cutbacks.

The suspensions are following management attempts to undermine UNISON's ability to defend their 3,000 members. After the struggle over terms and conditions with several strikes, the council still ignored the anger of their workforce. Although management were not able to carry through the whole package of savage cuts, they still pushed through a worsening of conditions. At the same time they have increased their own salaries.

In the last two years the council have also taken away facility time from UNISON representatives and forced UNISON to move into a tiny office.

Our main task is to mobilise the workforce to defend our union representatives. We are calling for them to be reinstated immediately and for a full investigation into the serious concerns raised about race relations in Hackney.

Please send messages of support and donations to: Hackney UNISON, 2 Hillman Street, London E8, Tel. 030 8356 4701, Fax 020 8985 6749, email: And protest letters to: Pam Case, Head of Human Resource Management, Town Hall, Hackney E8, email


Public Forum organised by Hackney TUC: Monday 20 January at 8pm at the Hackney Empire Bullion Rooms, Mare Street (next to the Town Hall).

Socialist Party public meeting: 30 January 7.30pm, Old Fire Station, Leswin Road (off Brooke Road), London N16.

Hackney library staff fight on

HACKNEY LIBRARY workers' struggle to get back their Saturday enhanced pay, is in its 15th month. One of the suspended branch officers, Socialist Party member Brian Debus, is also a library worker and has played a leading role in the dispute from the beginning.

His colleagues are outraged about management's disciplinary action against him. But in the last few days there has been anger about the role of the UNISON regional office.

The council has moved on to employ scab labour on Saturdays: They have introduced new timetables for the permanent library staff, in which Saturday work is not included. They are trying to open the libraries on Saturdays with part-time staff.

At this crucial point UNISON regional office did not renew the notice for industrial action.

First they said it was an error but when we requested it should be served for the next weekend, it still did not happen. Nevertheless the library staff were able to pull off significant action.

Last Saturday, when new staff were to start, striking workers ensured that some libraries had to be kept closed. After a lot of protest we got the regional office to finally serve the notice for industrial action for the coming weekend. We hope that with that official notice we will be able to convince more of the new part-time workers to join the struggle.

A date for the Employment Tribunal on the question of Saturday payment is set for 11 February. And the workers are discussing what kind of action to take around that date.

Please send messages of support to: Hackney UNISON, address above.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 17 January 2003:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Wage War On Low Pay: Support the firefighters

No To Bush And Blair's War

War On Iraq: The Pressures Grow

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Gun Crime - Fact And Fiction

Domestic Violence: Don't Let New Labour Renege On Their Pledges

Firefighters Ready For Battle Again

Socialist Party features

The Great British Wage Theft

Stop the War Coalition conference

International socialist news and analysis

Gujarat: Communalists Profit From Hate

Suez 1956: When British Imperialism Hit The Rocks

Socialist Party workplace news

Hackney Trade Unionists Attacked


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