Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/885/22071
Reinstatement victory for John Vasey
John Vasey, CWU unit rep, Wakefield delivery office (personal capacity)
When I was dismissed over the issue of not completing my delivery I was taken by surprise.
The dismissal came after being removed from my duty and suspended for three months (on 1 May 2015) Like everyone around me at Wakefield delivery office, I never thought the matter would go any further than that. Big mistake, I should have prepared for the worst.
It turned out to be a long haul - eight months! However, I appealed against my dismissal to the national appeals panel (part of a procedure dealing with the conduct of CWU unit reps).
Changes in the delivery office had been ongoing for months while this was unfolding and as far as members were concerned, it was these changes and my opposition to the removal of paid hours that was the reason for my sacking. Not the issue over completing my delivery.
Despite CWU members at the office being very much under the cosh they still gave me tremendous support.
This was largely kept alive by the National Shop Stewards' Network (NSSN) and the Socialist Party who launched into the campaign from the word go - acting as a line of communication between members and the campaign.
A very important boost came in Brighton! At the NSSN rally at TUC Congress on 13 September 2015, CWU General Secretary Dave Ward publicly backed my fight to be reinstated, which brought national backing. Dave has built a reputation of backing CWU workplace reps when they are under fire and I am grateful for it.
Back in Wakefield the momentum continued with a CWU members' motion passed in favour of industrial action. The issues were opposition to delivery office changes and for my reinstatement.
But the processing of this motion became painfully slow. The NSSN and Socialist Party responded by rallying members, which avoided demoralisation. CWU members had not lost their fighting spirit!
More gratitude must go to Wakefield Trades Council, Leeds Trades Council and Ashton-under-Lyne CWU works committee who added their backing. There were some salt of the earth trade unionists at those meetings.
Other messages of support I've had are too numerous to list but were greatly appreciated. I was disappointed however, by Wakefield Constituency Labour Party who did not even reply to my appeal for support.
In the end, my case finally went to the national appeals panel, at Leeds Mail Centre, in November 2015. Of course there were NSSN and Socialist Party members protesting with placards outside which was inspiring!
The decision took seven weeks to come through and I was reinstated with attached conditions but that can't dent the victory.
My CWU representative at the hearing did an excellent job and the CWU member on the three person panel was also decisive.
Thank you all!
In The Socialist 20 January 2016:
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