Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/7579
Outrageous "racism" charge leads to union ban
Four members of the public sector union Unison were last week banned from holding positions in their union following two years of investigations and hearings. A leaflet distributed at the 2007 Unison conference criticising the ruling out of resolutions relating to pay and accountability of full-time union officials and financing the Labour Party was found to have given "racist offence to members" for using a cartoon of the Three Wise Monkeys.
Based on this outrageous trumped up charge, the four have been found guilty and sentenced to a ban from office for three years for Glenn Kelly (NEC member and Bromley branch secretary) & Onay Kasab (Greenwich branch secretary), four years for Suzanne Muna (Housing Corporation branch secretary) and five years for Brian Debus (Hackney branch chair)!
To find four members, who have always opposed, fought and campaigned against racism, of effectively being racist themselves is not only outrageous but a terrible accusation for these four unison members to have to bear. Such a slur is bound to cause difficulties in the future, especially when working and applying for jobs in the public sector.
This has provoked anger and outrage both within Unison and in the wider trade union movement. The priority of every union should be to defend its members from job losses, reduced hours and worse conditions which are being foisted on workers during this recession. However the Unison bureaucracy is instead narrowly focused on silencing any opposition to the Unison leadership, especially socialists with a track record of fighting for their members.
Unison activists and supporters of the four are organising a mass protest outside of Unison head office on Thursday 30th July to make their anger known and warn the leadership of the union that they will not quietly accept this unjust result.
Protest outside Unison HQ, 1 Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9AJ on Thursday 30th July at 12noon.
Supporters of the four victimised trade unionists include the comedians Rory Bremner and Mark Thomas who had the following to say about the case:
"On the face of it, Unison are about to make themselves look a laughing stock. They need to be very aware of the widespread ridicule this will attract to their union and its leaders, and think again before the papers get hold of this and make them look foolish and authoritarian. They don't need this distraction"
"I know Onay Kasab - Kas. I have had the privilege of working with him on the Ilisu Dam Campaign and on the issue of trade unionist deaths in Columbia. To accuse him of being racist is utter stupidity and madness... those who brought this charge need to take a lie down in a quiet room, possibly with whale music playing and get a rest or they need to acknowledge their actions are motivated by other factors."
Further information and background material can be found at www.stopthewitchhunt.org.uk.