Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/609/8756
Unison black members reject witch-hunt
Defend the Four protest, Unison conference , photo Paul Mattsson
"Unless Mr Kasab and his colleagues are punished, black Unison members can have no confidence in the union fighting racism." These were the words of the Unison national officer who acted as the prosecution in the union's case against four Socialist Party members.
A Unison member
Yet, in the first week of the attacks, in June 2007, a black Unison member told the Socialist Party fringe meeting at the union's national conference: "They are not going to use the colour of my skin for their own purposes."
From the outset, the union leadership have been prepared to misuse the issue of racism. The long campaign to defend the four has shown that this is in fact a political witch-hunt.
Black members in Greenwich Unison have been to the forefront in expressing outrage at the charges against their Unison branch secretary, Onay Kasab. Many have said that if the ban on him holding union office is upheld, they will have no hesitation in resigning their union membership.
A recent meeting of Unison's national black members' committee was attended by general secretary Dave Prentis. There are over 260 BNP members in the union and he was questioned about the lack of action on this. Members also called for the union to reconsider its action against the four, as the sanctions were too harsh.
Then last week Unison held its annual national black members' conference. Onay Kasab was the delegate from Greenwich. He spoke in the debate on fighting the BNP about his role in leading the strike action at Hither Green back in 1988 against the fascist Skeggs and the role of Greenwich Unison in the campaign to close the BNP headquarters in Welling. Both campaigns were successful.
He told the conference that as a result he had received racist hate mail and had been targeted by racists. Finally he spoke of the scandal of the lack of action against the BNP members in Unison. He compared this with the treatment of the four and demanded an end to the witch-hunt.
He received several ovations during the three minutes he was allowed to speak. This obviously frustrated the general secretary who was sitting behind the podium. Several delegates reported that his face looked like thunder!
Delegate after delegate approached Kas after his speech, to congratulate him and to condemn the witch-hunt.
In The Socialist 27 January 2010:
Socialist Party election campaign
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party feature
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