Barnet UNISON branch chair says union will not be silenced

Tim Lezard Europe, UK, Public (PSI), Unison,

 

John Burgess Barnet UNISONVandals have attacked the car of UNISON activist John Burgess, attaching a note to his windscreen saying: “F*cking union faggotts get back home from here!”

The attack, which also saw a nail driven into his car’s front tyre, came as John was on strike over the privatisation of services at Barnet Council, and shortly after he joined the Pride march in London.

It was condemned as a hate crime by fellow trade unionists.

Barnet UNISON branch chair Helen Davies said: “It is our view this particular use of offensive language is far too coincidental for us not to understand this as an attack on John as a trade unionist and also for being seen on the Pride demo.

“We also think there is a strong coincidence that our branch was a very early signatory to the Unite Against Fascism statement about the proposed fascist gathering in Golders Green and encouraged our members to attend the protest.

“We are proud that we were part of a larger community mobilisation which meant fascists could not raise their heads in our community. Fascists are organisations which peddle hatred and what happened to John is in every sense a hate crime which has been reported to the police.

“John has a job to do and that is to represent the members of his union branch. We choose him year after year as we believe he is the best placed person to do this. He enjoys the confidence of the branch membership. This means whoever did this is trying to intimidate and silence all of our membership. We will not be silenced!

“We believe it is the demonisation of trade unions by the current government which also encourages this type of personal attack on individual trade unionists. We condemn such attacks and call on our supporters to rally round and show solidarity and support to one who has done nothing other than defend us and offer solidarity to all those fighting the effects of austerity and oppression.”

Camden UNISON branch secretary George Binette: “On behalf of Camden UNISON I express our shock and horror at the vicious homophobic vandalism carried out against John Burgess.

“This attack is a perverse tribute to the effectiveness of John’s tireless commitment to both his members and the defence of public services. Unfortunately, all too many politicians and sections of the media seem set to whip up a Jeremy Clarkson-style climate where it is literally open season on active trade unionists. Solidarity with John and the Barnet branch.”


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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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