Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/546/6353
John Mc Donnell MP protests at Unison witch-hunt
The Socialist has carried many reports of the witch-hunt against activists within Unison. At a recent meeting to oppose this witch-hunt, John McDonnell, the Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington spoke. He subsequently wrote this statement, which he has agreed for us to reproduce here.
I recently attended a meeting and heard from Unison activists who are being attacked by the leadership of their own union. As with other individuals who attended the meeting I am horrified, shocked and quite frankly outraged, especially when I heard of the detail of the allegations against the individuals concerned.
I am a Unison member myself and I therefore want to go on record as pledging my support to those activists now being witch-hunted by a section of the Union. I want to pledge my support in particular to Yunus Bakhsh, Glenn Kelly, Onay Kasab, Tony Staunton, Suzanne Muna and Brian Debus.
Unison members at present are fighting against pay cuts and having to cope with the consequences of inflation, they are fighting attacks on their jobs and terms and conditions as well as countering the threat from the BNP. While witch-hunts should never take place, how can the union justify this political attack on long standing trade unionists, anti racists and black activists, while at the same time there is so much work to do for our members?
I say a political attack, because that is what I believe this to be. As I stated at the meeting I attended it is the case that in order for free market policies to flourish, for wages to be held back, for privatisation to continue unopposed and for workers to be made to pay for the crisis in the economy then it is equally necessary for the organisations of the workers, our parties, our trade unions, to be made impotent.
One way to do that is to clear out fighters and militants. That is what this is. Unison's leadership are doing the bosses a favour.
It is a political witch-hunt. If it is successful then the losers will be ordinary Unison members. That is how important this campaign against the witch-hunt now is. That is why I support those being attacked. I ask all Unison members to do the same and I call on the Union leadership to end this witch-hunt today.
I hope that all Unison members who believe that our union should be an effective force fighting for our members and not against our activists will unite in a campaign for democracy in our union. Trade unions belong to their members. It is us ordinary members who make up the union. Our voice should be heard and our views listened to.
Closing down the right of members to have a democratic say in our union by attacking and hounding individual members and manipulating the structures and rules of the union is increasingly undermining the confidence of our members in their union. Eventually this will damage and undermine the effectiveness and the very existence of our union. I believe that all those that want to save our union should stand up now and demand a democratic union.
In The Socialist 2 September 2008:
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party feature
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party campaigns
Socialist Party review
Socialist Party NHS campaign