Kinnockite witch-hunts replayed in Unison

March 6, 2010 at 9:46 am (mccarthyism, red-baiting, Socialist Party, unions, voltairespriest)

For some time now, four prominent Socialist Party activists within Unison have been fighting against a concerted campaign to exclude them from the union’s political structures. Glenn Kelly, Suzanne Muna, Onay Kasab and Brian Debus are all members of the SP, and all have honourable records as comrades within the Labour movement. Finally, after a considerable battle, they were all banned from holding office within Unison due to absurd charges of “distributing offensive material”, in a shameful display of McCarthyite politics on the part of the union’s right wing.

Yesterday, the Unison hierarchy’s war against the four took a new and dramatic turn. I received the four’s latest newsletter (reproduced below) last night. It seems that there have been physical raids on the offices where the four work, including attempts on the part of officials to take hard drives and other information from those offices.

The writers of this blog do not always politically agree with the Socialist Party, but I think we would all recognise their members’ sincerity as socialist and progressive political activists, and also recognise the SP as one of the better elements on the UK left today. As such it seems only right to condemn this shameful attack, and to call on union members across the country to let the Unison leadership know what they think about this travesty of labour movement democracy.




Following the mitigation hearings Glenn Kelly (Bromely), Suzanne Muna
(Housing Association), Onay Kasab (Greenwich) and Brian Debus
(Hackney) have all been banned from holding any office in Unison.

Early this morning (5th March) UNISON officials turned up at the
UNISON offices of the Bromley, Greenwich and the Housing Association
having given no notice; we are awaiting an update from Hackney. The
officials have attempted to confiscate computer hard drives and other
resources, which include important documents on on-going personal

The officials intend to run elections for new branch officers but as
has happened in other branches they may well try to run the branches
themselves which has led to moribund UNISON branches.

The Four have conducted a determined and high profile campaign which
has meant that it has taken nearly 3 years to get them banned from
office. The mitigation hearings also concluded that the length of the
bans will be reduced by between 1 and 3 years.

However, this morning’s action shows the vicious reality of the UNISON
leaderships attacks on socialist activists within the union.

The four are urging supporters to phone or e-mail UNISON Head Office
now to protest against the ban and the raids of the branch offices.

What we need you to do:

1. Let as many unison members as possible know what is happening

2. E-mail letters of protest to:

– UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis:

– UNISON London Region:

3. Phone UNISON Head Office to express your disgust on 0845 355 0845

4. Pass a motion at your next meeting to be sent to Dave Prentis.

5. Funds are urgently needed for leaflets, publicity and legal costs.

Cheques payable to: ‘Stop the Witch-Hunt’ and should be sent to:
Defend the Four Campaign, PO Box 858, London E11 1YG.

6. Please let us know details of your protests – e-mail us at:


  1. charliethechulo said,

    Is this the “three wise monkeys” business and the preposterous accusations of “racism”?

  2. voltairespriest said,

    Yes, I think that was the reason given for the leadership’s moves to bar them from office. “Preposterous” is exactly the right word.

  3. Ernie said,

    Here’s what UNISON has to say about it all:

    “UNISON welcomes the ruling by the Employment Tribunal that the union did not discriminate against four members on grounds of their political beliefs when it disciplined them for producing and distributing a leaflet that was alleged to be offensive and racially discriminatory.

    The ET unanimously dismissed all the claims brought against UNISON by branch officers Brian Debus, Onay Kasab, Glenn Kelly and Suzanne Muna.

    UNISON has not made any public comment or comment to its members during the three years since the original publication of the leaflet. It is however now appropriate to set out the background to the case and to give a short summary of the ET’s decision.


    At the 2007 National Delegate Conference (NDC) the four members produced a leaflet alleging that the Standing Orders Committee (SOC) were rejecting an unprecedented number of motions. The leaflet questioned whether this was because the motions were controversial.

    The leaflet carried a cartoon depicting the SOC as the three wise monkeys.

    Clytus Williams, the Chair of the SOC a black man. Given this, some delegates found the cartoon not just unfunny, but offensive and racist.

    The chair of the Black Members Committee said it “belonged in the past with Bernard Manning”. Members of the SOC also complained that the leaflet was insulting to them generally.

    An investigation was launched into the conduct of the four members. This was followed by disciplinary action.

    The ET decision

    The ET found that the members’ beliefs did not fall within the protection of the Religion and Belief Regulations (2003), which outlaw discrimination on grounds of religious or philosophical beliefs.

    It added that their views “conflict with the fundamental rights of others and the dignity of the individual and are not worthy of respect…… a democratic society” and concluded that philosophical beliefs do not include political beliefs.

    However the ET also considered whether the members had been subjected to any discrimination on grounds of their political beliefs, whether or not they were covered by the regulations.

    The ET’s conclusions:

    1. The four members alleged that the decision to launch an investigation into their conduct for producing and distributing the leaflet was direct discrimination and harassment on grounds of their beliefs – specifically that they were Marxists/Trotskyists and members of The Socialist Party.

    The ET found that, given the strength of feeling about the leaflet, it was entirely reasonable for Unison to consider the perception of the leaflet as being racist and to deal with that by ordering an investigation into its production.

    The ET found that, given Unison has a policy of equal treatment, it was “not an option” for Unison “to do nothing”.

    2. The ET also concluded that it was appropriate for Malcolm Cantello, the then UNISON President, “to consider that the leaflet was offensive and denigrated the chairman and members of the SOC, for Mr [Clytus] Williams to consider it was insulting to the SOC, and for [Unison] to investigate it under their rules”.

    The ET did not require UNISON to explain why its action against the four members was not discriminatory because it said there was a complete lack of evidence of discrimination.

    3. The Claimants alleged that the full investigation into their conduct carried out by two national officers , amounted to direct discrimination and harassment on grounds of their beliefs.

    The ET unanimously dismissed these allegations, saying that the national officers “did not approach their investigation with a pre-judgment based on the philosophical belief of the Claimants of which they were aware”.

    4. The members alleged that the decision taken by the NEC to move their cases to a formal disciplinary hearing, the manner in which the disciplinary process was conducted and the length of time taken to hear their disciplinary case amounted to direct discrimination and harassment on grounds of their beliefs.

    The ET unanimously dismissed these allegations, finding that the members had failed to provide any evidence that their treatment was on grounds of their beliefs”.

  4. Paul said,

    Strange that Glenn and his mates sought the assistance of the employment tribunal in thier quest for justice yet women council workers across the country end up with a crap compensation deal for equal pay when they could have won a huge victory in the ET.

    How many ET cases did you lodge for Bromley women over the years Glenn?

    How many Unison members retired in Bromley without being told about the need to lodge an equal pay within the time limits, Did you advise them Glenn?

    Will you admit that Unison’s stance on equal pay is a sham Glenn?

    Why did all the male dominated jobs end up privatised in Bromley Glenn?

  5. charliethechulo said,

    Who’s Glenn?

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