Yunus Bakhsh, a leading activist in the Unison union, has been suspended from his job as a health worker in Newcastle.
Yunus is joint branch secretary of Unison’s North of Tyne health branch, a leading health activist and sits on the union’s health service group executive. He was elected onto this body from the Northern region of the union with 86 percent of the vote.
The attack on Yunus is an attack on one of the best organised health branches in the country. He has been involved in a number of recent battles to reverse the local impact of the government’s health cuts.
He was suspended on Thursday morning of last week. Management have refused to provide clear reasons for his suspension. They have been accused of asking workers to come forward for interviews without proper union representation.
A meeting of union representatives from across the health trust that employs Yunus called for him to be reinstated immediately. Unison members are currently organising a series of actions to defend Yunus and the union.
Other members of the Unison union around the country have rushed to defend Yunus. Pete Hinchliffe, branch secretary of Pennine Acute Health Unison, told Socialist Worker, “Yunus has always been extremely courageous in speaking up for the rights of working people.”
Paul Harper, branch secretary for NHS Logistics in Maidstone, Kent, recently helped organise the first national strike in the NHS for 17 years to fight the privatisation of the agency.
He said, “Yunus has been really supportive in the logistics campaign. Yunus is a fighter over every important issue. I was shocked to hear that he had been suspended.”
Karen Reissmann, chair of the Manchester Community and Mental Health branch of Unison, was threatened with disciplinary action earlier this year, but the threats were dropped after a campaign by fellow workers.
Karen said, “It’s disgraceful that union representatives are under attack. With what’s going on in the health service, no doubt local managers feel under pressure to make cuts. And they know that people like Yunus will stand in their way.
“It is now important that everyone gets behind Yunus – then he can win this battle just like I did.”
Protest to chief executive Alan Hall, e-mail email@example.com or write to Alan Hall, Chief Executive, Northumberland Tyne and Wear trust, St Nicholas Hospital, Gosforth, Newcastle NE3 3XT. Fax messages of support for Yunus to 0191 256 3171