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From The Socialist newspaper, 30 September 2009

Unison witch-hunt - Defend the Four!

"This is a battle we must win; to reclaim the union for our members, to ensure we have a democratic and fighting trade union," said Glenn Kelly at a 100-strong meeting on 23 September called by the Defend the Four campaign. The 'four' are all Socialist Party members in the union Unison who have been declared guilty by a union disciplinary panel on trumped up charges. They have all been suspended from holding union office for a period of time.

Video: Defend the Four meeting to defend four Socialist Party unison members banned from office, photo Socialist Party

Video: Defend the Four meeting to defend four Socialist Party unison members banned from office, photo Socialist Party

Glenn, one of the four, spelt out why this politically motivated attack was launched: "Because we call for the election of union officials; for those officials to live on a workers' wage; for the union's members to decide when they take strike action rather than the officials."

"Some officials make Acas look revolutionary!" he remarked. In particular, he explained that the four were victimised because they had argued for the right of Unison conference delegates to debate important issues - such as the union's funding of the Labour Party.

"We hand dues to the Labour Party on Monday only to be given cuts and redundancies on Friday," he pointed out. As an accusation of racism was one of the fabricated charges against the four, Glenn said that the Unison leadership would do something about racist BNP members in the union if it really wanted to combat racism.

The four were also declared guilty of breaking union rules. Onay Kasab, another of the four, told the meeting that in fact it is the union leadership that is breaking rules, such as the rule to 'promote a member-led union' or 'to promote trade unionism'.

The four were joined on the platform by John McDonnell MP, who strongly defended the four's campaign, saying he would raise it in parliament. Unison's top bureaucracy is "a beast lashing out to protect its influence" he said. He went on to condemn the record of the Unison leaders: "Wage deals have been concocted at national level that have undermined the living standards of Unison members".

Speakers from the floor included members of London Unison branches who called for a resolution in favour of union democracy to be voted on at the next Unison regional council meeting.

The four will have appeal hearings against the guilty verdict during the autumn, and will have 'part two' of an employment tribunal related to their case. The campaign will be publicising these further events and is continuing to request that protest messages are sent to the Unison witch-hunters.

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    In The Socialist 30 September 2009:

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    London postal workers: Big majority to stop funding Labour

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    Marxist analysis: history

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    Vestas workers fight on

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