Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/527/3961
Fight back against the Unison witch-hunt!
Four members of Unison who are also Socialist Party members are to face a Unison disciplinary hearing following the distribution of a leaflet at last year's Unison conference.
Five were investigated but only the four Socialist Party members are to face charges. The hearing will take place over three days from 22-24 April.
The leaflet was in response to the Standing Orders Committee rejecting nearly a third of submitted motions and thereby blocking conference's right to debate such issues as funding the Labour Party and the election of full-time officials.
The union is alleging that the leaflet gave racist offence, but they now accept that there was no racist intent. This was the original accusation, on the pretext that the leaflet contained a cartoon of the three wise monkeys. But the four are being charged with attacking the integrity of the Standing Orders Committee and for distributing the leaflet. This is an outright threat to democracy if members and branches cannot campaign against union decisions.
The four are: Glenn Kelly, Unison national executive council member and Bromley council branch secretary, Onay Kasab, Greenwich council branch secretary, Brian Debus, Hackney council branch chair and Suzanne Muna, Housing Corporation branch secretary.
All four have a proud record of anti-racism, of standing up for their members and leading struggles against their employers and are fully supported by their branches.
If the union leadership had invested as much determination and time in leading struggles to improve their members' pay and conditions as they have in witch hunting activists in the union, then members may have won a decent pay deal last year and there would have been a real battle to defend the NHS.
Nearly a third of motions were ruled out at last year's conference. This year 48% have been ruled out!
When these attacks have been explained at union meetings, members are shocked and angry, resulting in protest motions and letters being sent to the union.
Meetings and rallies are being organised to defend the four, as well as leafleting and petitions.
This is not just an attack on these four. Other activists and branches who stand up to the leadership and challenge decisions have also been disciplined.
A message is being sent out - if you stand up to and challenge the leadership and lead battles against Labour's policies then be prepared for being witch hunted.
If you are a member of Unison and oppose the witch hunt then arrange for one of the four to speak at your next union meeting. Check out the website www.stopthewitchhunt.org.uk for more information.
In The Socialist 2 April 2008:
Socialist Party campaigns
Workplace news and analysis
Marxist analysis: history
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party review