Wednesday 12 December 2007

Rally for Victimised Unison Members

I have just come back from the rally we organised tonight at the House of Commons for the Unison members who are being victimised for campaigning against privatisation. The rally was really successful.

Speakers from Karen Reissman's campaign explained that Karen, a health worker, has now had her appeal rejected and has now been sacked for speaking out publicly against the privatisation of health services in Manchester. Michael Gavan was also with us. Michael is the Unison branch secretary at Newham council and has also been sacked for organising meetings to protest against the council's privatisation of its services.

The Freemantle care workers also came along and John Freeman, their Unison branch secretary, described the treatment the care workers received at the hands of the Fremantle company after Barnet council had privatised their service and jobs.

It was incredibly moving to listen to these stories of courage and determination in standing up for what people believed was right. We all acknowledged the courage shown by Karen, Michael and the Freemantle workers.

Unison members at the meeting resolved to take the message about these individual disputes and acts of victimisation back into their branches and to use every mechanism available through the union's structures not just to gain support for these individual campaigns but to mobilise to put Unison at the heart of campaigning against privatisation.

Tonight could just be the start of transforming Unison into a fighting union.

Tomorrow NAPO holds its rally in Parliament against cuts in their services and jobs caused by Gordon Brown's comprehensive spending review. At the same time the Police Federation is holding a 1000 strong meeting in protest at the pay settlement imposed on the Police by the government. On Thursday RMT is demonstrating outside City Hall in London against the Mayor's decision to put the East London line and Crossrail out to a franchise and Newham council workers are out on strike in support of Michael Gavan.

Surely the message is fairly clear. People have had enough and are not willing to take it anymore.