Campaigners from across north east England packed into a victory party for Yunus Bakhsh last week. An Employment Tribunal recently found that Yunus, a nurse and union activist, had been illegally sacked.
Leading activists from the Unison, Unite, UCU and PCS unions joined with scores of workers from the hospital were Yunus worked for two decades.
Together they celebrated the verdict that declared that Yunus had been dismissed for his trade union activities and had suffered disability discrimination.
For almost four years Yunus has had to fight both his former employers and his own Unison union in order to win justice.
Unison leaders, sensing an opportunity to defeat the left in its own ranks, turned on Yunus after he was suspended from work.
They used the same “evidence” as Yunus’s employers to mount an investigation into him, and then expelled him from membership.
The effect of this witch-hunt has been to damage the entire trade union movement in the area.
One local Unison member told Socialist Worker that there were more rank and file members of her union at the party than she had seen at any Unison-organised event in the northern region for many years.
Now Yunus’s supporters have launched an open letter to Unison leader Dave Prentis demanding a labour movement inquiry into the way the leading rank and file activist has been treated.
“People at the social, from a variety of unions, are livid at the way national and regional Unison leaders attacked me,” Yunus told Socialist Worker.
“Their actions have implications for every trade unionist. What kind of advert for the movement is it if your own union turns on you when you are under attack from your employer?”
Yunus says that he hopes that the open letter will be circulated among activists in every union, and in every part of the country.
“My case has national implications. Therefore, it must be taken up nationally,” he said.
“Supporters of my campaign are going to be going to the TUC congress in Manchester this Sunday to join the protest organised by the National Shop Stewards Network.
“We will be taking our open letter and we expect that very many delegates will want to sign it.”
Download Yunus's open letter [120kb PDF]
Make donations payable to Defend Yunus Bakhsh Campaign and send c/o 46c Lawe Rd, South Shields, Tyne & Wear, NE33 2EN