Friday, October 05, 2007

Newham Council attacks UNISON

I was shocked to hear last night that Newham’s off-the-wall Labour Council (which clearly demonstrates all the reasons why we were right as a UNISON to oppose elected Mayors) is pressing ahead with a disciplinary hearing in the case of Michael Gavan, about which I have blogged before. The hearing could be as little as a fortnight away.

Michael is the widely respected Branch Chair of Newham UNISON and his work over a number of years has been central to sustaining trade union organisation with a difficult and temperamental employer. UNISON members in Newham are rightly pressing ahead with a ballot for strike action.

Michael is quite clearly being victimised for his trade union work and while UNISON is balloting members for strike action we also need to maximise political pressure on Newham at the same time.

Those of us who are Labour Party members have a particular obligation to express our disgust to our Party colleagues in Newham. (I would normally say comrades, but no comrade of mine victimises a trade unionist for his union work!)

Those of you on Facebook please join the Defend Michael Gavan group which has just been set up – and get all your Facebook friends to do the same. Meanwhile in the world beyond cyberspace send messages of support to Newham UNISON and copy them to UNISON Regional Office at Congress House, Great Russell Street. (I have removed a hypertext link to the email address of the Regional Secretary at UNISON's request).

Whether or not there is a General Election in the next few weeks there will be one in the next few months. The Labour Party will expect finance and material support from UNISON – and (in my opinion, given that a Tory Government would be even worse) we ought probably to provide some. However, if a flagship Labour Council led by a high profile elected Mayor is set on destroying the career and livelihood of a hard working activist then, at least in Newham, no UNISON support should go to the Party.

Michael has strong support in the Region – it is up to the Regional Labour Link Committee to rise to the challenge of putting our Union first. I shall be asking, as an NEC member, that our Union pulls out all the stops to defend Michael.

Update on Monday - It’s good to see UNISON reporting on the fight against the victimisation of Michael Gavan of the Newham branch on our website. Don’t forget to join the Facebook group in Michael’s support!

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