Brent’s campaign against Unison continues

Brent Unison branch treasurer, Wenford Scott, was charged with gross misconduct in March this year, just a month before the policy and resources committee proposal to derecognise Unison and its district officer, Stuart Barber.

A campaign by Unison in consultation with Wenford Scott led to fraud investigations in two neighbourhood offices. In 1992 Wenford played a leading role in opposing the notorious competence test introduced in the Brent housing department.

In March 1995 management indicated that Wenford would be coming under close scrutiny. In May it refused to grant Wenford “paid time off for trade union duties and activities”. Unison informed management that under procedures the district officer must be informed prior to any disciplinary action against a senior Unison branch officer.

In September 1995 management decided to invoke the sickness procedure against Wenford for having more than ten days’ sick leave. Wenford had had five weeks’ annual leave in March for a leg operation. Management withdrew the action when it was pointed out that he had had only nine days sick leave at the time.

Wenford’s disciplinary hearing was adjourned, but when reconvened it was clear the panel was not going to be impartial. Wenford and his Unison representative withdrew from the proceedings when the chair of the panel decided that the hearing would go ahead without discussion on the procedures to be adopted.

Wenford was found guilty of all charges in his absence. He was given a final written warning and was later charged with gross misconduct.

Profits remain the motivating force for Brent council. Labour with Liberal support is temporarily now in control of the council after the Tories lost their majority with the death of Steve Kemp. Paul Daisley is now the leader. The Tories have been committed to line the pockets of private operators by transferring staff to private contractors without union rights.

Workers now fear that they will be framed and dismissed through abuse of the disciplinary procedures and dismissed without a redundancy payment.

Those like the SWP who parrot ‘Tories out’ now have their way. What they miss is that Labour has been a very loyal opposition in Brent. Throughout the country it has imposed cuts with as much relish as the Tories where it has power.

Paul Daisley also wants to get rid of Stuart Barber. ‘Tories out’ was always a disarming slogan for the battle against the full-scale attack on union rights in Brent: now it is utterly useless. All workers in Brent must rally to the defence of Unison, its representatives and all council workers.

Linda Addison