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Union members fight expulsion for racism

PUBLISHED: 15:49 18 June 2008 | UPDATED: 10:05 12 August 2010

TRADE union workers accused of racism are fighting a vicious campaign to get them sacked, writes Jules Cooper. Bromley and Greenwich Unison

TRADE union workers accused of racism are fighting a 'vicious' campaign to get them sacked, writes Jules Cooper.

Bromley and Greenwich Unison secretaries Glenn Kelly and Onay Kasab held a public meeting to clear their names on Tuesday at the union's conference in Bournemouth.

They and two other members produced leaflets depicting the three wise monkeys at their conference in Brighton last June.

The leaflet attacked the public sector union for gagging conference debate on strikes and unpopular donations to the Labour Party.

But the leaflets were condemned at the conference as 'racist' by former leader Malcolm Cantello, leading to an internal investigation due to be concluded in July.

Mr Kasab said: "If the allegations are upheld, we could be expelled from the union.

"We used the three wise monkeys to show how they were not listening to members. The image of the monkeys is an ancient proverb that has never had anything to do with racism.

"It is nonsense."

Mr Kasab has led Greenwich council workers in demonstrations against single status pay deals and alleged cuts to council services.

He claims that they are victims of a political witch-hunt to drive out criticism of Unison leadership.

Socialist Party member Mr Kasab said: "It is a political witch-hunt and we're quite open about saying that.

"The leadership is trying to gloss over the fact that their members have turned against the Labour Party.

"Our members in Greenwich have told us that time and time again. There is no political agenda here. We are just representing their views."

The defendants were also told that they were breaking rules by distributing the leaflets.

Now they say they have been banned from discussing their situation at the Bournmouth conference, being held this week. Mr Kelly said: "The leadership are going to get a rough ride this week. Nobody can quite believe this is happening. Should they go ahead with it they could be seeing protest resignations."

If found guilty of racism, Mr Kelly and Mr Kasab will still remain Unison branch secretaries unless they are also found guilty on appeal. Their hearing is due to be concluded by three national executive members of Unison at the Hilton hotel, Edgware Road, on July 16.

jules.cooper@archant.co.uk

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