Socialist Worker

Protest at suspension of the chair of Newham Unison

Issue No. 2065

Protesting at Newham Town Hall last week (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Protesting at Newham Town Hall last week (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Last week some 50 people attended a lively protest outside Newham town Hall in east London over the council’s attacks on the Unison branch chair Michael Gavan.

Workers reacted with fury after the Labour-run council launched an attack on the Unison union.

It suspended Michael Gavan 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 claims Michael was aware of.

Michael’s union branch vigorously denies these claims.

The rally saw support from across the council with messages of support from other Unison branches, the local CWU post and telecom workers union branch and other unions in the council.

One council worker told Socialist Worker, “Michael has stood up and defended us on many occasions. It is only right we came out today to defend him against the council.”

Another worker said, “We can’t let the employer just get rid of union reps because they are standing up for the workforce. It tells you a lot about Newham council that they are even trying it.”

The suspension came 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.

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

A Newham Unison branch executive meeting has voted to demand an immediate industrial action ballot.

It also voted to ask Unison’s Labour Link to withhold money from the Labour Party across London while the dispute continues. The protest was outside a council hearing into the case, where management refused to reinstate Michael.

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

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Article information

Tue 21 Aug 2007, 19:11 BST
Issue No. 2065
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