Yunus Bakhsh, the nurse and trade unionist who was illegally sacked in 2006 by Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, has won a very substantial sum as a final settlement in his dispute against his former employer.
Yunus won an employment tribunal case against the trust in 2010. This latest victory follows Yunus challenging the trust for ignoring the tribunal order that he be reinstated. Yunus spoke to Socialist Worker to thank all those who had supported his case over the years.
For over six years now I’ve fought a battle for justice. Yesterday it finally ended to my satisfaction. I may not have got my job back, but I have made sure bosses at the Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust paid a heavy price for victimising me.
I hope my fight inspires workers everywhere who faces attacks when they stand up for what is right. And I hope my victory deters those bosses who think they can get away with sacking trade union militants.
Of course I’d have preferred to have never gone through all this. Trust bosses wasted huge amounts of NHS money on sacking me—money that should have been spent on patient care. But that is for them to answer—they were the ones who broke the law by sacking me.
It’s not often that a judge calls the actions of highly paid bosses “utterly reprehensible”. But that’s what Judge Andrew Buchanan said about the trust managers who flouted a court order to reinstate me.
I’m proud of my work as a nurse and trade unionist for over 23 years. Like thousands of other health workers, I endured long hours, hard conditions and low pay because of my commitment to the NHS.
I’m equally proud of the role I played building a strong and effective union branch at my workplace, one which delivered some of the best terms and conditions in the NHS.
There’s no way I could have got through to this stage without the support of thousands of other trade unionists who gave me moral and financial support.
But I have nothing but contempt for those Unison officials who failed to defend me against my attacks by my employer. These people, at both national and regional level, have betrayed every principle that trade unions stand for.
I was victimised because I spoke out against fat cat pay rises for the bosses while our services were being cut. I was victimised because I wanted to see an end to low pay and the bullying culture staff had to endure. I was driven out of my job because I was a thorn in the bosses’ side.
The judge described me as a well respected and effective militant trade unionist. But first and foremost I’m a socialist—a member of the SWP and a fighter for a better world one where no worker gets treated as I was.
To everyone who supported me, I send my deepest thanks. Solidarity is what built our movement—and solidarity is what will lead us to victory.