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From The Socialist newspaper, 31 July 2014

Housing under attack: build the resistance

Reinstate Bryan Kennedy

Housing workers fight back

Bryan Kennedy, victimised Unite union rep at One Housing Group (OHG), was sacked by letter on 17 June having been suspended by his employer back in February. The Unite housing branch has rallied behind him, took strike action to demand the lifting of his suspension, and is now campaigning for his reinstatement.
Bryan spoke to the Socialist about his sacking:

"They [OHG] had a raft of allegations at the beginning, some of which were total nonsense - bullying, coercion, fraud, etc, for which there was no evidence.

I had an investigation meeting - six hours, no break, 178 questions! You'd get a better deal from the police!

They went through every email, every bit of paper in the office. After going through all of that, all the slanderous allegations, they've ended up with: 'leaving papers on my desk', 'not signing enough health and safety forms', and 'inflating people's performance scores' as I'm a key manager.

There's also the catch-all one they use for union reps in particular - 'breach of trust and confidence'.

They've got form on this sort of thing before. In 2009 they took over a big swathe of council properties in Tower Hamlets and they quite publicly sacked a Unison rep. Another Unison rep was sacked last year - one of the charges against him was 'papers on his desk'."

What is the background to your sacking?

"I first became a rep in March 2012. In April, they announced pay cuts for 300 staff.

I had worked in my post for ten years. I had studied the accounts in detail. I knew that they were making quite a healthy surplus. I made a very basic economic argument - the money was there.

Even with only 30 members, we managed to trigger a delay to the pay cut and the argument was effective.

We went out for eleven days of strike action. The union was growing, people were enjoying the idea of taking action. OHG came up with some proper money.

This was a process that started in April 2012 - we concluded in November 2013. They claimed it has cost them 2.3 million more than they expected to pay.

OHG do not like any independent voice within the organisation that they do not control - that can be a union rep or a tenants' organisation.

We protested outside the headquarters on 23 April. We protested outside the staff conference in May. We called strike days, 6-9 June.

I was getting some very shirty emails saying 'we don't like what the union is circulating'. They wanted the union to stop saying the suspension was union related. If you look at the hundreds of pages - I've never seen a disciplinary process like it, all sorts of crazy allegations - the union is mentioned all the way through it. Some things like petitions and other things that I've had no involvement in are included in the claims. They gave the game away. It's all union related. There was an absolute change of attitude with the pay dispute."

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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In The Socialist 31 July 2014:

Middle East

No more carnage in Gaza - Mass struggle to end the siege - Stop Israeli state terror

Gaza in crisis - Mass action needed to stop bloodshed

Thousands march against slaughter in Gaza

Socialist Party feature

WW1 - 100 years since the great slaughter

Socialist Party

Obituary: Dave Boyes

Socialism 2014: Ideas to change the world

Socialist Party news

Socialist Party news and analysis

Economic recovery - so where's our share-out?

Student loan sell-off plan scrapped

More police spying revelations

Miliband needs a makeover... ...of his party and his politics

Them & Us

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

10/hr Now! Because the bills keep coming and the rent won't wait!

Tolpuddle martyrs rally

And now for something completely different... a barricaded cinema

Hackney tenants get organised

Solidarity with Birmingham student occupiers

Southampton: Channel 4's Immigration Street condemned

Rugby League: Have Featherstone fans got their club back?

Socialist Party workplace news

Passport Office strikes for jobs and decent pay

Reinstate Bryan Kennedy

The games that Glasgow Labour plays

Doncaster Care UK workers striking for 2 weeks

Workplace news in brief


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