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From The Socialist newspaper, 29 September 2005

Witch-hunt in Amicus as merger nears

THREE AMICUS members of staff - Des Heemskerk, Jimmy Warne and Cathie Willis - have been suspended from their jobs in Amicus. One of them was suspended while still on holiday and knew nothing of his suspension until he returned to work.

The other two were escorted off head office premises without any explanation. The three were told that a reason would be given in due course.

The Amicus GMB staff representative has submitted a formal grievance with Amicus to request an explanation.

It is suspected that the suspensions are linked to behind-the-scenes moves to prepare for the possible merger with the TGWU, amongst other issues, by Derek Simpson, Amicus general secretary.

Members of the Amicus Unity Gazette, the broad left organisation instrumental in getting Derek Simpson elected as general secretary and winning 23 of the seats on the Amicus Executive, have also been excluded from the organisation in the north-west.

All of those suspended from their jobs or excluded from Unity Gazette have been instrumental in pushing that the union's policy of election of full-time officials should be retained as part of the merged union.

The policy, which used to be part of the rules of the AEU engineering union, was adopted by a majority of four votes at Amicus's inaugural conference in Brighton in May.

Since then it has been the subject of heated debate in the union where it appears that Simpson's supporters are trying to overturn the decision by stealth in the run-up to the possible merger.

Des Heemskerk is the editor of the Amicus Unity Gazette and a former deputy convenor at Ford. He gave up his job and took a pay cut, at Derek Simpson's request, to take a job in the union's campaign department.

Jimmy Warne is the Chair of the Amicus Unity Gazette and is a former shipyard electrician and shop steward at Swan Hunter.

Cathie Willis has worked for the union for eight years and suffered years of victimisation under the right-wing Jackson regime. All three played a pivotal role in Simpson's election.

The suspensions follow an attack on the Gazette leadership by Derek Simpson at an national executive meeting at which he accused unnamed individuals of being involved in an attempt to destabilise the Amicus leadership.

He called for an investigation into the publication and circulation of internal union material but never informed the executive of his intention to suspend the three people the following day.

Amicus members should send messages asking what are the reasons for these suspensions and calling for the three suspended officials to be reinstated to their jobs immediately.

Send a message to Derek Simpson at:

Copies to Phil Willis at

Or send a message of support to: Reinstate The Three, 4 Stanton Close, Orpington, BR5 4RN.

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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.

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In The Socialist 29 September 2005:

NHS in danger

Labour's great NHS sell-off

Waiting for Gordon

Where are the Lib Dems going?

Anger at occupation of Iraq

Fight for free education

Don't sell off Peabody homes!

Anger grows amongst industrial workers

Morrison's join the 'race to the bottom'

Witch-hunt in Amicus as merger nears

Poland: Right-wing parties win election


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