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Union taken to tribunal over racism verdict

PUBLISHED: 17:33 22 July 2009 | UPDATED: 10:57 12 August 2010

WORKERS are taking their trade union to a tribunal after they claim a witch hunt found them guilty of racism in connection with a leaflet

WORKERS are taking their trade union to a tribunal after they claim a 'witch hunt' found them guilty of racism in connection with a leaflet depicting the 'three wise monkeys'.

UNISON members Onay Kasab, from the Greenwich branch, Brian Debus, from Hackney, Glenn Kelly, from Bromley, and Suzanne Muna of the Housing Corporation section have been found guilty of racism by their union.

Union bosses deemed the three monkeys image, from an ancient Buddhist proverb, racially offensive last Thursday after it was handed out on a leaflet at its Brighton conference in 2007.

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. The four were also found guilty of attacking the union's Standing Orders Committee which decides what is debated at its conferences.

Now they are using the legislation The Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003 to take their union to a tribunal.

Mr Kasab said: "It is an outrageous decision arising from a witch hunt. It has been going on for two years and to find us guilty is ludicrous. We fail to accept that somebody may find it offensive.

"The leaflet was handed out at the conference by mostly black women from Hackney.

"Our punishment could be anything from us going to a course to being expelled from the union.

"The real worry is that other trade unions will look at this and those with differing views and people who speak up may end up facing similar charges.

"There were five of us facing allegations but only four of us had action taken against us."

The tribunal is due to take place on August 10 for five days, where the four are not allowed to use any of the union's resources and therefore plan to represent themselves.

At the time of going to press, UNISON were unavailable for comment.

marina.soteriou@archant.co.uk

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