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Union chiefs accused of witchhunt'

PUBLISHED: 17:43 26 August 2009 | UPDATED: 10:17 12 August 2010

A TRIBUNAL hearing has been adjourned after accusations were made of a witchhunt against Marxists and Trotskyites in one of the country s largest unions. Unison members and Socialist Party members Onay Kasab, from Greenwich branch, Brian Debus from Ha

A TRIBUNAL hearing has been adjourned after accusations were made of a "witchhunt" against Marxists and Trotskyites in one of the country's largest unions.

Unison members and Socialist Party members Onay Kasab, from Greenwich branch, Brian Debus from Hackney, Glenn Kelly, from Bromley, and Suzanne Muna, from the Housing Corporation branch, started legal proceedings at the Central London Tribunals in Holborn after their union found them guilty of racism.

The four were banned from the union for a total of 15 years on July 24 after an internal disciplinary hearing found them guilty of racism in connection with a leaflet depicting the "three wise monkeys".

The leaflet, which included the slogan "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil", criticised the public service union for ruling out certain topics for discussion at its conferences.

Union bosses deemed the three monkeys' image, from an ancient Buddhist proverb, racially offensive, on July 16 this year. It appeared on a leaflet handed out at its Brighton conference in 2007.

The four sought a tribunal hearing under The Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003.

Regional organiser and non-Trotskyist Tom Snow told the tribunal of a witchhunt orchestrated by top union management.

He said: "To be a Trot (Trotskyite) in Unison is to be at the receiving end of uninformed and casual condemnation by senior full-time officers.

"At the end of 2006 the London local government team was the subject of a reorganisation of areas. I lost Bromley. The more I asked the question why, the more strongly came back the answer that I had failed to sort out or deal with Glenn Kelly.

"I was shocked by events on a two-day pilot Meeting the Organising Challenge course which I attended. Dealing with Trots turned out to be part of the agenda.

"Both Chris Remington, regional manager for health, and Linda Perks, head of London region, intervened to make this clear. And she [Ms Perks] said it was what Dave Prentis, general secretary, wanted.

"One expression I can remember from Chris was that the Trots had to be castigated.

"It was obvious to me that the darts she and Chris had aimed at Trotskyites were completely illegitimate and a warning of some kind of initiative much more serious than the odd jibe in the office.

"I am unwilling to be tainted by my managers' clear intent to go after Trotskyites."

After hearing five days of evidence the case was adjourned last Friday to sit for a further four days from December 15, when Unison bosses are due to give evidence.

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