Socialist Worker

Backing the victimised in Sefton

Paul Shackley, Unison steward at Lancashire Connexions, sent in this message of support for Nigel Flanagan.

Issue No. 1973

I worked for Sefton council until the careers service was privatised. Nigel Flanagan was an excellent union branch secretary. He worked tirelessly for the members.

His leadership gave Sefton Unison a national profile. When a Unison member in Newcastle asked me which branch I was from, he was impressed and I was proud when I said, “Sefton”.

Nigel proved that members are concerned and will take action if that option is presented to them. By his leadership, compulsory redundancies were prevented.

A closure of a residential home was even reversed, which proved that it could be done when those in positions of power said that there was no alternative to closure.

When the careers service was privatised, we prevented redundancies. Nigel showed us that it was possible for us to walk out of work to confront the directors and managers who were organising the privatisation.

A woman who was a lay reader in the Church of England thanked him for showing her that there was something she could do to protect her colleagues.

Our action was successful and the people who did it certainly do not walk out of work whenever it suits them, or because any union organiser has somehow “intimidated” them.

If Nigel called for a walkout over something trivial (which he would have more sense than to do), they would politely tell him that that was not a good idea.

A ballot of Sefton tenants rejected the selling off of housing stock despite Sefton council spending £5.2 million to promote the sale.

Of course Nigel led the campaign to defend council housing. His actions protect workers, tenants and public services. Sefton council should be proud to employ someone with such a consistent record of defending public services.

How could his attendance at a Defend Council Housing protest “intimidate” anyone? Surely it is the council that is now intimidating employees by threatening redundancies and intimidating tenants by threatening to stop council house repairs?

Look how much support Nigel, Paul, Debbie, Rose, Vinnie and Ellen have from the Sefton workforce. That is based on respect for the stand they take. Sefton council should share that respect.

The council is elected to serve the interests of the people of Sefton. Nigel, Paul, Debbie, Rose, Vinnie and Ellen serve the interests of the people of Sefton.

I call on the council in the name of humanity to stop persecuting them—and to start working with them to defend public services.

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