Socialist Worker

Council workers: Newham, Wandsworth

Issue No. 1903

WORKERS AT Newham council, east London, were set to strike for two days this week. We are protesting against the council's attack on our union, Unison. This includes evicting the union from its offices and axing facility time for union offices.

Two well-supported 24-hour strikes were held on 22 April and 5 May. The council say they will review the ban on union rights-but not for six months and not unless we apologise for going on strike and say what great employers they are.

We have now heard from other council workers in Tower Hamlets and Barnet that their union organisation is coming under attack. The councils are trying to redefine union facility time so it can only be used for union officers to represent individual members. The council bosses want to limit the whole idea of what is legitimate trade unionism.

That's why our dispute is important to the whole union. We have argued for a strategy of putting political pressure on the Labour-run council as well as using our industrial muscle through strikes.

This strategy seems to be paying dividends. A few Labour councillors came to our 100-strong rally on Friday of last week. But our union branch members have to keep organising to ensure the strategy they want is pursued and members remain in control of their own dispute.



UNISON UNION member Sarbani Mazumdar was racially discriminated against when Wandsworth Tory council in London unfairly dismissed her in March 2002, an employment tribunal has decided. Sarbani Mazumdar was the Wandsworth branch secretary when she was sacked over alleged breaches of security procedure.

The south London employment tribunal found she was unfairly dismissed because the punishment was disproportionate to the alleged offence and discriminatory because it was disproportionate to the way the council treated white colleagues. Sarbani Mazumdar said, "This is not just a victory for me, but for Unison and Wandsworth Unison in particular, who have supported me throughout this terrible ordeal."

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Thu 27 May 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1903
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