On Wednesday 21st November we heard the news that Michael Gavan, Chair of Newham Unison, had been sacked by the Council. The day before his disciplinary began Newham Unison Branch voted by 85% to strike in his defence. Hundreds demonstrated and picketed outside Council offices. The grounds for Michael’s dismissal are as bizarre as those for Karen Reissmann. Michael was told he was representing the views of Unison members, not those of the Council. But that is what he was elected as Chair of the Branch to do!
The fact is, Michael organised a meeting against planned privatisation in the Borough. Privatisation hits services, and it hits the pay and conditions of council workers. It is becoming a pattern that privatisation is a source of strife in local government. While the council leaders have clearly had Michael in their sights as an obstacle to their plans, rank and file councillors have approached him and the union with private declarations of support. They are scared to stick their heads above the parapets because of the climate of fear within the Labour Group.