Sacked health worker and union activist Yunus Bakhsh has won another sensational victory in his long-running battle for justice.
A judge last week branded Newcastle health bosses’ refusal to reinstate the nurse they unfairly dismissed as “utterly reprehensible”.
Bosses suspended Yunus in 2006 and then discharged him in 2008, despite his 23-year unblemished record.
The trust said it had received complaints the nurse had bullied other trade unionists.
But an employment tribunal instead found that Yunus had been targeted by bosses for his trade union activities. In April it ruled that he should be compensated and re-employed.
When Yunus reported for work in June, bosses declared they would not obey the ruling. Instead, he was left waiting in the trust’s reception for more than an hour while a letter informing him of their decision was hastily typed.
A furious Judge Andrew Buchanan said at an employment tribunal last week that he wished awards against employers who deliberately disobey the law could be unlimited. He increased the Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Trust’s compensation bill to the maximum allowed—a total of more than £105,000.
That comes on top of the authority’s legal bill, which the trust claimed in September stood at over £116,000 but which critics suspect is far higher. The judge said he did not believe the trust had ever planned to reinstate Yunus and was instead prepared to pay a financial penalty.
“In the private sector an employer might take that as a commercial decision but in the public sector, where public money is concerned, it is utterly reprehensible,” he said.
“This was a decision by public officials to use public money to flout an order of a tribunal. We can only speculate if it would have been different had the money come from these officials’ own pockets rather than the public purse.”
The judge’s scathing attack on the trust should further embarrass Yunus’s former union, Unison. Instead of backing their activist, Unison leaders sensed a chance to weaken the left in the union and joined the attack.
They expelled Yunus, forcing him and his supporters to carry on the battle for justice without heavyweight financial and legal backing.
Despite tremendous odds Yunus has won yet another round of his fight.
He told Socialist Worker that he is delighted with the verdict, but is now planning further legal action against the trust.
“I’m appalled at their behaviour,” he said. “They were given money for healthcare and threw it away illegally suspending me, dismissing me and then defending this case instead of reinstating me.
“Meanwhile, I’m left with the bills for bringing the action. That’s why I’m appealling for funds for a further legal action to recover costs.”
Ian Mearns, Yunus’s MP, says he is in “full agreement” with the judge. He wrote to trust bosses last week to demand an explanation and inform them that he will refer the case to the House of Commons public accounts committee.
The campaign for justice for Yunus now has an impressive list of victories under its belt. The pressure on trust bosses to settle the case in full is reaching breaking point.
That’s why Yunus’s supporters are planning to redouble their efforts for the final stages of his campaign.
Timeline of a victimisation
- August 2006
Yunus speaks out against his bosses awarding themselves pay rises as they cut the budget for patient food.
- September 2006
Managers suspend Yunus after receiving an “anonymous” letter alleging he was a bully.
- January 2007
Unison leaders suspend Yunus from elected office while launching an inquiry into identical allegations with identical “witnesses”.
- June 2008
Management sacks Yunus.
- November 2008
Unison expels Yunus.
- January 2009
One of those who accused Yunus of bullying is revealed to have joined racist-inspired Facebook groups and to be “friends” with BNP members.
- July 2010
Tribunal rules that bosses unlawfully sacked Yunus for trade union activity and discriminated against him on grounds of disability.
- April 2011
Judge fines trust bosses and orders them to reinstate Yunus.
- June 2011
Bosses write to Yunus saying they will not re-employ him.
- November 2011
Employment judge attacks trust for refusing to obey Tribunal order. He insists bosses pay the maximum penalty.
Send donations and messages of support to: Defend Yunus Bakhsh Campaign, c/o 46c Lawe Road, South Shields, Tyne & Wear, NE33 2EN