Defend the Four: Court awards £49,000

By Glenn Kelly, Unison (personal capacity)

On Friday 9 August, the employment tribunal dealing with the Unison leadership’s illegal banning of the ‘Socialist Party Four’ from office issued its judgement as to what compensation Unison would have to pay.

The compensation follows the 2011 ruling that found the Union leadership guilty of “unjustifiable” disciplinary action against the four activists for producing a leaflet complained about resolutions being excluded from the 2007 Unison Conference.

Given that the average pay out for a worker from a tribunal is about £4,000, the tribunal’s decision to award £49,000 in total to the four shows how the union’s actions were viewed.

The court also award aggravated damages against Unison for their treatment of me, saying: “that we are satisfied that the conduct of the respondent (Unison) amounted to high-handed malicious and oppressive conduct and we decided in the case of Mr Kelly to award an additional award for aggravated damages”.
‘Dedicated trade unionists’

Agreeing the damage done to the four of us by the union, the court found all four of us as “committed and dedicated trade unionists, elected by the members and had devoted either the whole or a large part of their working life to advising representing the member and their interests at regional and national level”.

Despite this, in an attempt to diminish their actions, the union had tried to argue in the court case that the damage done to us was minimal ‘as we were Marxists and Socialist Party members and were used to political rough and tumble of political life’.

The court responded by saying that: “we do not accept that the claimants’ political beliefs and or activities made them in some way impervious or immune to hurt caused by the action of the respondents”.

Alongside the ban, we also had to face our branches being taken into regional administration. All along the union tried to say the two events weren’t related.

However, on 9 August the court rejected the unions claim saying: “it is inconceivable that there was no link between the claimants being banned and the branches being taken into regional administration.”

In reference to the raids on the branches it said: “it was done in a way to cause the maximum humiliation to the claimants”.

Given the findings of the court cases, the question still remains: who will be held to account inside Unison for spending six years attacking union activists and wasting literally hundreds of thousands of pounds of our members’ money?

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