Socialist Worker

Sefton council’s weak case shouldn't get a hearing

Issue No. 1973

Nigel Flanagan and Paul Summers join striking workers last month (Pic: Rob Brenner)

Nigel Flanagan and Paul Summers join striking workers last month (Pic: Rob Brenner)

The disciplinary hearings of six victimised union activists working for Sefton council on Merseyside began on Monday of this week.

Nigel Flangan and Paul Summers, respectively branch convenor and branch organiser of the Unison union in Sefton, face charges of gross misconduct and the threat of the sack. Four other Unison shop stewards are facing lesser charges.

The council has been hounding the six activists since May for taking part in a Defend Council Housing (DCH) demonstration in Bootle shopping centre, claiming that they intimidated other council workers.

The council had been aggressively promoting plans to sell off its housing stock—plans that were defeated in a tenants’ ballot. The successful anti-privatisation campaign was led by DCH campaigners and Sefton Unison.

Sefton council is believed to have hired a barrister to push its case against the six workers. But their case is weak — none of the CCTV footage, police logbooks or eyewitness accounts of the demonstration offers any evidence that the alleged intimidation took place.

Nigel Flanagan had been due this week to accompany a group of local children to Auschwitz, site of the former Nazi death camp, as part of an annual educational tour organised by council workers.

Workers in Sefton say the council deliberately scheduled the hearing to clash with this trip, warning Nigel that the proceedings would continue in his absence if he did not attend.

Meanwhile escalating selective strike action at Sefton against the victimisation continues, with a further 15 workers due to come out indefinitely this week in addition to the 25 out already.

The union is calling on trade unionists to bombard the council with messages of protest.

Send messages of support and financial contributions to Sefton Unison, Mersey Seaman’s Mission, Colonsay House, 20 Crosby Road South, Liverpool L22 1RQ or phone 0151 928 9911

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Sat 22 Oct 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1973
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