The campaign to defend Yunus Bakhsh, a leading Unison union activist and fighter for the NHS, from victimisation by both his management and his trade union gathered pace this week.
Senior figures in Unison in the north east of England have signed an open letter to general secretary Dave Prentis demanding that the union put its weight behind saving Yunus’s job.
Many of those who have signed are not traditionally associated with the radical left. This proves that the atmosphere of a witch-hunt generated by the employers assault and the regional leadership of the union has failed to intmidate activists, instead making wider layers get behind Yunus.
Shop stewards in Yunus’s former branch have been touring hospitals in the Northumberland, Tyne & Wear trust with a petition demanding the right to ballot for strike action in Yunus’s defence.
Despite an “official” Unison report that alleges that support for a ballot is patchy, they have met with an excellent response and are questioning the basis on which the report was conducted.
“Unison has prevented any official body in the union from discussing my case – that includes my branch, my region and the national executive,” Yunus told Socialist Worker.
Yet it emerged last week that regional officials and senior management at Yunus’s hospital had been “discussing” Yunus for quite some time.
Yunus said,“They won’t tell anyone in the hospital what is going on.
“Then they run a ‘consultation’ with the membership and say there is no mood for action.
“But everywhere we take the petition, we find widespread support.”
Massive pressure from across the country last week forced regional Unison leaders to postpone Yunus’s union disciplinary hearing, in order to give him more time to prepare his defence against management.
Now activists must maintain the pressure so that Yunus’s branch is given permission to ballot for strike action.
Rush messages demanding Unison members at Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Trust be balloted for strike action to Dave Prentis, general secretary, Unison, Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9AJ.