The scandal surrounding the victimisation of Yunus Bakhsh, the widely-respected black trade unionist from Newcastle, has plumbed new depths.
Full-time officers from his Unison union this week sent out an email to union members across the north east of England claiming that publicity generated by Yunus’s supporters is “misleading and false”.
The union’s attack comes before the end of the 28 days it gave Yunus to reply to its internal report into issues raised by the case.
The message suggests that Yunus was given a chance to present evidence to Unison but did not take up the offer. In fact, he gave the union a mass of evidence that points to a racist smear campaign against him, and the possible involvement of the fascist BNP in his sacking.
Yunus was sacked from his job as a nurse last year after being suspended from work on issues relating to his trade union activity since 2006. He faced a disciplinary procedure that involved anonymous witnesses and statements.
While this was going on Unison launched its own attack on Yunus. In 2007 he was suspended from his elected positions. Yunus believes that the initial anonymous letter was racist and urged his union to consider the motivations of those he believes to be behind it.
By chance Yunus came across the Facebook page of Kerry Cafferty, then a Unison branch officer, who he alleges was behind the anonymous letter.
Cafferty was a member of five racist Facebook groups linked to the BNP. It became clear that fascist activists were monitoring Yunus in the hope of getting him sacked, and that they were receiving information about his battle with Unison – even before Yunus himself was informed of it.
The fascists’ discussion raises chilling possibilities:
- Were any BNP supporters involved in plans to remove Yunus from his job and his union positions?
- Did the BNP have access to information about the case because they had an informant in the hospital, the union, or both?
John McDonnell MP is outraged at the way Yunus has been treated. “Witch-hunts should never take place, how can the union justify this political attack on long-standing trade unionists, anti-racists and black activists, while at the same time there is some much work to do for our members?”
Yunus’s supporters are now demanding a full independent trade union enquiry into the allegations of racism that run to the centre of his case. Yunus remains clear that his victimisation is political. To cheers at last week’s Fight for the Right To Work conference, he said, “These attacks are an attempt to weaken the union at my hospital and weaken the left inside my union.
“We have to fight to ensure that neither is successful.”
Send messages of support and donations to Defend Yunus Bakhsh Campaign, c/o 46c Lawe Road, Tyne & Wear, NE23 2EN