Monday, 31 January 2011

Demo against the cuts / end the witch-hunt

I attended the excellent, lively demo on Saturday in London with my branch, staff from UCU and of course our students. Well done to SOAS UNISON for getting their (beautiful) banner on the BBC news report here!

I spoke at the initial rally as the crowds swelled to 10,000 at the beginning. However, the students and workers at the front of the march were so keen to get moving, by the time I got on the mic the march was already leaving Malet St! I'll post my speech, which I had to cut short, at some other point.

In the meantime, those of you, like me, who are sick of hearing about socialists being disciplined by UNISON, will (whilst glad of the result) be appalled to read this Employment Tribunal judgment. The judgment unanimously finds that the Socialist Party members were right to challenge their disciplinaries.

When we heard about 'The Four' Socialist Party activists who were barred from office, our branch committee greed to write to Dave Prentis to protest against this unfair treatment, and we requested that he calls this 'witch-hunt' off. We received no reply.

This ET judgment vindicates us and all those who have stood by them. Congratulations to all those involved. The disciplinary sanctions taken against Glenn Kelly, Onay Kasab, Suzanne Muna and Brian Debus should all now be lifted (they were barred from office from 3-5 years).

Where is their apology?

And where is the apology for all of us in London UNISON branches who have less full time officers to support us? Two of those branches (Bromley and Greenwich) that had secretaries barred from office, as a result of this unfair disciplinary, were then placed under regional supervision. That has burdened our already stretched resources.

At the recent D&O committee, I raised the pressing need to get these branches back under lay member control, because it effects us all in London - not only Local Government. Now that the ET has confirmed these were unfair disciplinary actions, it'll be quite easy to allow the members to have their AGMs and elect who they choose. Surely ... ?

We in UNISON have all suffered because of this witch-hunt: it was apparently due to a "don't rock the boat" under a Labour government attitude. It was bad enough then, and it would be absolutely criminal for it to continue under the present administration.

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