Socialist Worker

Newham council workers rally to defence of suspended union rep

Issue No. 2064

Workers at Newham council in east London have reacted with fury after the Labour-run council launched an attack on the Unison union.

It suspended Michael Gavan, the Unison branch chair, and banned him from any contact with union members.

The council says that Michael is suspended for meeting with members of the union in the dust depot and not informing on a member who is alleged to have committed a criminal offence – which the council claim Michael was aware of.

Michael’s union branch vigorously denies these claims.

The suspension comes after Sir Robin Wales, the Labour mayor of Newham, launched an attack on the union complaining that it stood in the way of total flexibility and pay cuts.

Irene Stacey, Newham Unison branch secretary, said, “Michael is an honest and hard working branch chair and would never do anything that is not in our members’ interests.

“This is not the first time that the council has attacked our union and it is no coincidence that Michael has been suspended.

“It comes shortly after the union started a campaign against the privatisation of the refuse and cleansing service.

“Sir Robin Wales publicly declared that Unison stood in the way of his plans to cut pay and increase working hours for our members.”

Michael is a well-respected representative. He is now banned from assisting anyone who faces sickness or disciplinary charges.

A Unison rep said, “Our branch executive meeting last week voted to demand an immediate industrial action ballot over this.

“People have phoned into the office to say how outraged they are by this. The membership is really angry and solidly behind Michael. We also voted to ask Unison’s Labour Link to withhold money from the Labour Party across London while the dispute continues.”

For more information phone Newham Unison on 020 8555 9351 or email

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Tue 14 Aug 2007, 18:05 BST
Issue No. 2064
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