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Eileen Short proved right to fight sacking by Tower Hamlets council

Issue No. 2049

One of the protests held in support of Eileen Short (Pic: Guy Smallman)

One of the protests held in support of Eileen Short (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Tower Hamlets council in east London has been forced into a humiliating climbdown over the case of sacked journalist Eileen Short.

The Labour-led council made press officer Eileen Short redundant in January 2006.

It has now paid her a substantial settlement, believed to be £50,000, in advance of a legal hearing which was due to start last week.

The council’s chief executive has also made a statement praising her work for the council.

The outcome is a total vindication of Eileen’s courageous campaign and the stand which Tower Hamlets Unison union members took to defend her.

This included a number of strikes and protests that won support from a wide range of trade union and politcal forces.

Unison campaigned against Eileen’s dismissal, claiming that it was political victimisation.

Eileen, who is a council tenant, had campaigned in her own time alongside Defend Council Housing against the handover of Tower Hamlets’ council housing to private organisations.

Unison branch secretary Jean Geldart said, “The council claimed Eileen’s job was redundant, while there were four vacant jobs virtually identical to hers.

“In fact, some of these jobs were still vacant last week.

“Now they have had to pay her a large amount of compensation.

“The council’s climbdown is a humiliation for them and a victory for the union.

“But it demonstrates the lengths they will go to in getting rid of a member of staff whose face doesn’t fit.

“They are still trying to do this, and we will continue to pursue legal cases if other staff are dismissed.

“However, I hope that this payout will make them think again before sacking staff following spurious reorganisations.”

Eileen said, “This result shows that where our union stands up to management we can win.

“I’m proud of the way my colleagues and Unison stood by me all the way.”

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Tue 1 May 2007, 19:22 BST
Issue No. 2049
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