Note to Unison leadership – the organization is a trade union, not branch of the Labour Party. Harassing Trotskyists will not endear you to the membership.
The first charge against the four Unison members (pictured below) is that they produced a leaflet at the annual conference of Unison in 2007 which questioned why the Standing Orders Committee had ruled out key motions from being debated. Simply highlighting this on a leaflet resulted in the first charge of an “attack on the integrity of the members of the Standing Orders Committee.”
Glenn Kelly, one of the four, Branch Secretary of Bromley Unison and Unison national executive, addresses the Reclaim the Union fringe meeting at Unison conference 2009, photo Paul Mattsson
The second charge relates to the use on the leaflet of a well known Buddhist proverb and cartoon of the ‘three wise monkeys’ (see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.)
The four have been charged with “Failing to show due care in not anticipating that someone might take offence [from the leaflet]”.
On 17 July Unison’s disciplinary panel delivered their verdict and then scuttled off to consider the sentence. The result should be known in a couple of weeks.
Onay Kasab, another of the four charged, is Branch Secretary Greenwich Unison. Here he addresses the Socialist Party fringe meeting at Unison conference 2009, photo Paul Mattsson
The attacks on the four Unison members found guilty have nothing to do with these trumped up charges and everything to do with eliminating any opposition to the Unison leadership – and specifically any opposition from the Socialist Party which the four are members of. Five Unison members were originally investigated but charges against the member who was not in the Socialist Party were dropped!
Socialist Party members in Unison have consistently argued that the Unison leadership should put their members before the interests of New Labour, who receive huge sums of trade union money but then attack public sector workers, many of whom who are members of Unison.
Suzanne Muna, Branch Secretary Unison Tenant Services Authority, and another charged, speaks to the lobby of Unison disciplinary hearings against the four Socialist Party members, photo Alison Hill
This is a classic witch-hunt. Some Unison members have already been expelled and others are under investigation for opposing the leadership.
The two-year investigation and hearings into the four Socialist Party members now found guilty have caused widespread anger towards the Unison leadership. The Defend the Four campaign has attracted huge support within Unison and the wider trade union movement.
Brian Debus, Branch Chair Hackney Unison, the fourth Socialist Party member charged, addresses Unison conference 2009, photo Paul Mattsson
All supporters of the four are called on to flood Unison headquarters with protests against this blatant witch-hunt. The charge of racism in particular, no matter how its framed, could not only jeopardise their union membership but also their employment chances.
This witch-hunt is a disgrace to the trade union movement. All four have a long and proud record of fighting racism and fascism in the workplace and the wider community.
Send your protests now to Unison HQ: Unison, 1 Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9AJ . Telephone: 0845 355 0845
Also send to: Defend the Four Campaign, PO Box 858 London E11 1YG.
See also: www.stopthewitchhunt.org.uk