The attempt by the Unison union to discipline Yunus Bakhsh, one of its best known left wing activists, continues to force the union’s leadership into some tortuous manoeuvres.
Following his suspension from union office, Yunus has been pressing his union to consider their responsibilities under the Race Relations Amendment Act 2000.
In particular he wants to know why his union has failed to consider a possible racial motivation for a complaint against his conduct that has been under investigation for the past seven months.
Unison’s initial response was to say that the act only applied to public bodies and that, therefore, Unison was exempt.
Unison has previously made clear its commitment to adhere to the act on a voluntary basis, pointing to the union’s Race Equality Scheme (2004). Assessing the impact of anti-discriminatory legislation, the scheme affirms that trade unions “have a responsibility to ensure that their representatives and members do not discriminate against any particular racial group in the admission or treatment of members, or as colleagues, supervisors or subordinates”.
Despite this commitment, Unison officials are now saying that the protection offered by the act is only to be extended to Unison’s employees, not its members.