Around 30 trade unionists from across the south west of England assembled to lobby the panel hearing the disciplinary charges against leading Unison member Tony Staunton.
There were delegations from Bristol, Bridgwater, Exeter, Taunton and Portland, plus Unison and other unions from Plymouth.
The event was deliberately low key to avoid giving the panel further grounds to attack Tony or other Unison members. But several leading trade unionists spoke.
Diana Beale, T&G secretary in Plymouth city council explained how Plymouth still had the best services, most of them in house, due to the tireless efforts of Tony.
She said how the whole atmosphere in the city’s unions had changed for the better when the Plymouth unitary authority was set up, and Tony moved from being Devon county council branch secretary, to Plymouth.
Dave Chapple from the CWU and Bridgwater Trades Union Council, said that despite their political differences, Tony was someone who always fought for the working class, and backed any workers in struggle.
Dave said he was appalled by the attacks on Tony and that the Unison leadership needed to investigate their own “party within a party”, Labour Link, rather than being part of a concerted witch-hunt in the South West.
Phil Jones, a former Unison rep, told how Tony was always at the forefront of efforts to carry the class struggle forward, locally, nationally and internationally and that it was a disgrace that his own union was attacking him.
Tony gave a rousing, impromptu speech when he arrived for the hearing, calling on everyone to be on CWU picket lines, uniting the battles across the working class.
He urged everyone to ensure that the real battle – against Brown’s neoliberal policies, pay cuts, sackings and privatisations – was carried forward.