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From The Socialist newspaper, 9 September 2009

Witch-hunted Unison member given extra charge

AFTER 28 months of stress and eleven days of hearings costing over 50,000 - for having the temerity to challenge the decisions of Unison's standing orders committee - Hackney Unison chair, Brian Debus, was banned from holding office in the union for five years.

Brian is one of the four Socialist Party members who have been the subject of a lengthy witch-hunt by the Unison leadership. He received the longest ban.

The disciplinary action was started on trumped-up charges of giving "racist offence to members", after a leaflet (endorsed by four Unison branches) critical of the standing orders committee decisions was circulated at Unison's 2007 conference.


In February 2007 Hackney local government Unison branch passed two motions, one called for the election of heads of service groups regionally and nationally, every five years. The second called for the procedure for industrial action ballots to be speeded up.

These motions were passed by the branch because members were disappointed at the national leadership's conduct of the battle over pay and pensions. They were also frustrated at the six month delay in holding a ballot of library workers in Hackney.

The membership was angry when the motions were ruled out of order by the conference standing orders committee, so the production of the above leaflet for the conference was agreed by the branch.

This leaflet, using the "three wise monkeys" image, formed the pretext for the launch of the witch-hunt. Hackney branch secretary Matthew Waterfall is not a member of the Socialist Party and was never charged but four Socialist Party members from different Unison branches were.

Now, disgracefully, Brian Debus, in a further hearing, has been declared guilty of an extra charge of "misappropriation of Unison branch funds". No extra penalty was imposed on top of the five-year ban, but this extra charge against Brian alone is a further attempt to denigrate his good standing in the labour movement.

The four are waiting for a Unison appeal to be heard and an Employment Tribunal to reconvene in December.

Hundreds of protests have already been sent to Unison general secretary Dave Prentis, but please continue to send them to: Unison HQ, 1 Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9AJ.

Telephone: 0845 355 0845. email: Please send copies to: Defend the Four Campaign, PO Box 858 London E11 1YG or email

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In The Socialist 9 September 2009:

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Socialist Party workplace news and analysis

Workers' action can stop NHS cuts

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Construction workers protest

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