Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/534/4130
Unison members say 'no' to witch hunt
Lobby of Unison disciplinary hearings against four Socialist Party members, photo Alison Hill
Around 70 angry protesters lobbied the Unison 'disciplinary hearing' which started on 14 May.
Four branch officers from London Unison branches are being attacked by their own union for daring to produce and hand out a leaflet at the last Unison conference that objected to important issues being removed from the conference agenda.
To hide the real motive for the attack - which is to stop Unison members from challenging and opposing the leadership and to silence those fighting against low pay, cuts and privatisation - the four have been charged with several concocted offences, including causing 'racist offence' by using a cartoon on the leaflet of the well-known, ancient 'three wise monkeys' proverb.
Lobby of Unison disciplinary hearings against the four Socialist Party members, here joined by the Hackney Unison branch secretary, photo Alison Hill
The four under attack are: Onay Kasab - secretary of Greenwich Unison; Glenn Kelly - secretary of Bromley Unison and a Unison national executive member; Suzanne Muna - secretary of the Housing Corporation Unison branch; and Brian Debus - chair of Hackney Unison.
Members of all four Unison branches were outside the hearing with placards and banners to give support to their branch officers. The four gave determined speeches with a supportive speech from Mathew Waterfall, the secretary of Hackney branch, who was originally investigated but not charged.
He pointed out that he was the only one of the five originally accused who was not a member of the Socialist Party and the only one who has had the charges against him dropped. But the union wants him to go on a race awareness course - even though he is the elected branch secretary of one of the most ethnically diverse Unison branches in the country!
Suzanne Muna speaks to the lobby of Unison disciplinary hearings against four Socialist Party members, photo Alison Hill
When some of the supporters went to the Unison head office after the lobby they demanded to see general secretary Dave Prentis. There was so sign of him but instead the protesters were photographed by Unison staff!
The venue for the hearings was the Hilton Metropole Hotel in central London which is thought to have cost the union £4,000 a day.
After three days of the hearings only one of the four's case had been dealt with. The hearings are now postponed till after the Unison conference.
This allows more time to build the campaign to defend the four and the campaign will be stepped up for the Unison conference in June.
Messages of support from comedian Rory Bremner and comedian/journalist Mark Thomas are among many others sent to the four.
They still need more messages of support and protest:
Defend the Four Campaign, PO Box 858 London E11 1YG or email to: email@example.com.
Send protests to: The General Secretary, Unison, 1 Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9AJ.
Please see www.stopthewitchhunt.org.uk for details.
In The Socialist 21 May 2008:
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party campaigns
Environment: Nuclear power
France 1968 - month of revolution
International socialist news and analysis