Socialist Party
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1 February 2007

Power industry

Fight this victimisation

A LEADING union activist in the power industry has been suspended by his employer. Antony Czubkowski (known as Chub), is a senior Amicus steward for Central Networks (formerly East Midlands Electricity and Midlands Electricity Boards), owned by a German company E.ON.
E.ON UK, of which Central Networks is just a part, has around 15,000 employees, Chub is European Works Council delegate for the UK and a lead negotiator. He talked to Jon Dale about what led to him being escorted off the premises to a waiting taxi, four days before Christmas.

"A couple of months ago I went in to represent a member. The manager flatly refused to recognise my right to be there, shouting and screaming at me: 'Who do you think you are? You're nothing, a nobody, I want you sacked.'

The meeting ended without any resolution for the member, who witnessed the whole disgraceful episode. I raised a formal grievance against the manager's actions. He subsequently raised a complaint against me. The complaint had no foundation whatsoever. Within it, he admits he would not have raised any complaint if I had not raised a grievance.

The company investigated my grievance and the manager's complaint. Just before Christmas they tricked me into attending a meeting where they informed me that my grievance against the manager was unfounded but following investigation into the manager's complaint they had decided to suspend me to carry out further investigations.

The charges they quoted were 'unacceptable behaviour', 'malicious accusation' and 'conduct inconsistent with the performance of his duties'.

The company broke their own procedure more than once. Neither myself nor my Amicus full-time official have received any detail concerning the case and they have refused to elaborate on the charges.

Backlash

MY SUSPENSION looks like a backlash from the grievance, but I do not believe it's the real issue. The unions have been growing in strength, recovering from the Thatcher years. A new harmonised agreement was rejected by 97%, with 95% of ballots returned. The joint trade unions campaigned to get this agreement rejected and we had a massive success.

Members who were set to gain from the new agreement rejected it in order to support their colleagues who were suffering detriment. The unions are fighting back. Throughout E.ON UK and most prominently within Central Networks, they are challenging the company.

My suspension is about the company attacking the unions to try to weaken our power and influence. Taking out a leading trade unionist would send a message to the workforce and deal their confidence a blow. But it's backfiring!

Local reps formed an organising committee to fight to lift my suspension straight away. We have elected two new reps to help organise the campaign, sending a clear message to the company that intimidation doesn't work. A petition against attacks on the right to organise is getting big support."

Over 100 members attended a local meeting on 10 January. Support for industrial action was solid. Amicus and GMB have started ballot proceedings for industrial action in Central Networks. The TGWU is likely to follow.

Protest emails to managing director Bob Taylor have been flooding in. Support has come from the other depots. On 18 January, in a fantastic public show of support, the European Works Council for all of E.ON elected Chub as the deputy chair. This position was never previously held by any member outside Germany.

Send protests to Managing Director: Bob.Taylor@central-networks.co.uk
Messages of support to: antony.czubkowski@ntlworld.com and tony.tinley@amicustheunion.org



http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/2025