Two Unison union activists who have been suspended for opposing council house privatisation in Sefton on Merseyside spoke out at the launch of the MPs’ report and made an appeal for solidarity from other trade unionists.
Nigel Flanagan, the branch convenor of Sefton council Unison, and Paul Summer, the branch organiser, were suspended along with four union stewards for taking part in a demonstration against Sefton council’s plans for stock transfer.
Two of the suspended stewards have since been allowed back to work, but the others remain suspended. The council is falsely claiming that the union activists intimidated council staff.
Paul Summers told Socialist Worker he believed the suspensions were aimed at neutralising the opposition of housing workers to a council housing stock transfer.
“The council originally proposed a stock transfer ballot in November,” he said. “But now they have brought it forward — it will be held in ‘late summer’, we suspect in August or September.
“The general feeling is that we will remain suspended while the ballot is taking place to keep us out of the way.”
The suspended activists also appealed to supporters to lobby Sefton’s three MPs — Joe Benton, Clare Thomas and John Pugh, against the council’s attempts to silence them.
They already have the support of the House of Commons Council Housing Group, led by Austin Mitchell, and the Unison union both nationally and regionally.
Ballot papers for industrial action were sent out to 2,500 council workers this week.
Send messages of support to Sefton Unison, 38 Church Road, Waterloo, Liverpool L22 5OL, or phone 0151 934 4760