Victimised trade unionist and nurse Yunus Bakhsh finally has a chance to seek justice at an employment tribunal – but he urgently needs the help of the trade union movement and other supporters to make sure his campaign doesn’t fall at the final hurdle.
Yunus needs to raise funds for legal representation at his employment tribunal against his former employer Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Trust, due to take place in March. He is alleging victimisation on the grounds of trade union activity, race and disability discrimination.
Yunus was suspended from work in September 2006 while on full time release as Unison branch secretary at the NHS Trust where he had worked as a nurse for over 20 years.
He was suspended shortly after management sent a letter to his union threatening him because he had spoken out against massive pay rises awarded to the Trust directors at the same time as they were seeking to cut services.
Yunus was given no reasons why he was being suspended, but was later sent a transcript of an anonymous letter the Trust claim they had received about him.
Yunus was then subject to a procedure more akin to a police state than an NHS Trust.
He faced statements that had been so heavily censored that they could hardly be read and evidence from anonymous witnesses that he could not cross examine or challenge.
Though his branch and members gave him full support, the national Unison leadership launched their own attack on him.
It took the Trust until June 2008 to convene his disciplinary hearing.
By then Yunus had become seriously unwell with depression due to his prolonged suspension.
His GP declared he was unfit to attend or represent himself.
Shockingly the Trust went ahead with his hearing, against medical advice. Yunus was sacked in his absence in June 2008.
It then took the Trust until December of 2008 to arrange Yunus’s appeal.
Just before Christmas 2008 Yunus discovered that Kerry Cafferty, a Unison steward who had given key evidence against him, was a member of five racist Facebook groups with links to the BNP.
He also discovered that the BNP had been monitoring his suspension and appeared to have inside information about the allegations against him.
Yunus brought all this to the attention of his employer and his union.
Unison did not admit they had been wrong, but simply allowed Kerry Cafferty to resign as a steward.
In April 2009 the Trust dismissed Yunus’s appeal after a hearing in which he was again denied the right to cross-examine the anonymous witnesses.
Yunus has lost his job, his career and his pension as a result of his victimisation.
He has campaigned for years to support others – as a trade unionist, an anti-racist and a socialist.
Because Yunus has been victimised by his union, Unison, as well as his employer, he faces the prospect of funding his tribunal on his own.
After more than three years of campaigning, the movement must ensure that Yunus is not priced out of his chance for justice.
Send donations payable to Defend Yunus Bakhsh Campaign c/o 46c Lawe Rd, South Shields, Tyne & Wear, NE33 2EN
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