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Hackney: Unite fights racism and victimisation
Hackney Council Unite the Union is preparing to consult members on industrial action following the dismissal of the branch equalities officer, Natasha Johnson. Natasha had raised a grievance complaint following a number of racist and sexist incidents.
Instead of taking the complaint seriously, the employer has circled its wagons around the managers accused of appalling behaviour. In fact, the employer has accused Natasha of not taking into account the feelings of her managers - when she made the complaints!
The allegations against Natasha include the complaint that by allowing the union to publicly defend her, she again did not take account of the feelings of managers. Clearly, Hackney Council cares more for managers' feelings than about eradicating racism and sexism.
To its immense credit, Hackney Central Constituency Labour Party have agreed a motion in support of the campaign. However, the response from Labour councillors so far has been poor.
Councillors claim that they cannot intervene in disciplinary matters. This is clearly nonsense. Not so long ago, it was councillors who heard and decided on appeals for dismissed council employees.
The claim that councillors cannot intervene when senior council managers fail to deal with racism and sexism is nothing less than an abdication of leadership. The attack on Natasha is without doubt an attack on the union.
Unite has run a number of effective campaigns in the borough - winning the minimum wage for parking enforcement officers and school cleaners, preventing the implementation of term-time-only pay for cleaning contractors and winning permanent jobs for agency staff.
The council wants to push the union back - but it will not work.
The union has already won council agreement for an independent inquiry into racism.
Now the union will continue to push to win justice for Natasha and demand that the council acts to combat racism and sexism in the workplace.
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