Socialist Worker

Newham keep up the fight to defend union rights

by MICHAEL GAVAN, branch chair, Newham Unison
Issue No. 1900

THE STRIKE in Newham on 22 April shook the council hard, and that's why we were to strike again this week. Over 2,000 Unison members stopped work last time to show the council we will not let them take away our union rights. Now we have to show the council that our action wasn't just for a single day and that we will take further action to defend our union.

We are determined to win back our trade union rights-including issuing branch newsletters free from council censorship and having our members being represented by elected branch officers. Just who do the council think they are, telling us we're not allowed to report any disagreements with them in our branch news bulletin?

Do they really think that when they try and take our members' rights away we will say nothing? Unison has seen documents issued by the council's personnel managers which say that the council no longer recognises any Unison branch officials. This all adds up to a blatant attack on Unison's right to exist in Newham.

It won't be long before they try and take away the trade union rights of every Unison member. This will be the green light for every hardline manager in the council to bully their staff as much as they like. That's why it's so important that we defend our trade union rights. We have to retain a strong Unison branch that can represent all its members.

The council has evicted us from our offices but we've set up a new office on non-council premises. All we want is the right to have two full time branch officers-the same as every other trade union in the council-who can support our members.

  • For more information contact the new branch office at 11 Burford Road, Stratford E15, or phone 020 8555 9351.


    OVER 150 social workers and administrative staff belonging to the Unison union demonstrated outside the Edinburgh Council Chambers on Thursday of last week. They were protesting against a Labour proposal to split up their department. Some 80 percent of the 1,000 staff who responded to a management consultation were against this move. The department will now be split into two or three separate organisations, including a "Health and Social Care Trust"-a move widely condemned by Unison.

    This fails to learn the lessons of other councils, like Haringey, which, having split up its department of social work, has now brought it back together again following an inquiry into a child's death.

    Social workers are now balloting on industrial action. They unfurled a banner giving a clear warning message to councillors: "It's your decision-You are responsible-It's not safe."

    CAROLINE HOSKING, Unison member Edinburgh (personal capacity)

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    Article information

    Sat 8 May 2004, 00:00 BST
    Issue No. 1900
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