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From The Socialist newspaper, 21 May 2008

Unison members say 'no' to witch hunt

Lobby of Unison disciplinary hearings against four Socialist Party members, photo Alison Hill

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.

Jane James

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

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

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:
Send protests to: The General Secretary, Unison, 1 Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9AJ.
Please see for details.

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In The Socialist 21 May 2008:

Step Up Fight Against Low Pay!

Force more u-turns out of this weak government

Housing crisis

Build Affordable Homes Now!

Socialist Party workplace news

Unison members say 'no' to witch hunt

Reasons to be cheerful about the trade unions

Public-sector workers say pay up!

National Shop Stewards Network second conference advert

Socialist Party campaigns

Give us back our Post Office!

Fightback saves Cardiff school

Southampton students: 'Don't gag us'


Glasgow: BNP not welcome here

100% rise for health bosses

Global food crisis

Them and Us: The great divide

Environment: Nuclear power

Nuclear industry's 'green' camouflage

London Olympics

London Olympics 2012: A great sporting occasion and a great profit-making opportunity

France 1968 - month of revolution

France 1968: Be realistic - demand the impossible!

International discussion on the way forward for socialists

Video: 'France 1968, month of revolution' London meeting

Campaign for a New Workers' Party conference

International socialist news and analysis

China: Earthquake disaster exposes regime's failings

Lebanon: Hezbollah routs pro-US Siniora government forces

Ireland: Vote no to Lisbon Treaty and EU militarisation!

France: Workers and youth resist Sarkozy's attacks


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