Socialist Fight Editorial: Defend the rights of the Rank And File and the workers’ press to fight the sell-out TU bureaucrats
23/04/2013 by socialistfight
Defend The Rights Of The Rank And File
Weekly Worker No 948 7th February 2013 issued an unreserved apology which states “Untrue and highly defamatory allegations were made about Unite Regional officer Wayne King”. Socialist Fight totally rejects this apology. Gerry Downing, a member of Socialist Fight and then a Unite Bus worker at the Cricklewood garage, wrote the article in the 12th January 2012 edition of Weekly Worker.
What Comrade Downing wrote was true and we have the judgement of the Employment Tribunal to prove this assertion. By printing this apology the CPGB has cast aspersions on the reputation and integrity of Comrade Downing. Nothing Comrade Downing wrote was untrue apart from a mistaken date. It has been used by reactionary bureaucrats in Unite to brand Downing a liar when, in fact, Employment Judge Ryan with wings Mr I Bone and Mrs I Sood branded Wayne King a liar, a judgement of considerably more weight than the grovelling and untrue apology forced out of the WW by Thompsons Solicitors on behalf of Mr King by threatening the loss of their homes.
Socialist Fight rejects the abject apology and political cowardice of the CPGB. In opposition to the trade union bureaucracy in Unite Socialist Fight is one hundred per cent in support of Comrade Downing’s decision to write the article. We reject the attempt by King and the Unite bureaucracy to muzzle and silence the left wing press and the activities of rank and file bus workers who are genuinely fighting for Unite members’ interests. Our record is there for everyone to see.
This decision by this Unite officer to use the capitalist courts to silence the left wing press and rank and file opposition shows the depths to which this bureaucracy will sink. Socialist Fight pledges that it will fight this action politically by turning to the working class and the wider labour movement to defend Unite members like Gerry Downing from this sort of attack. The publication of this humiliating climb down potentially puts every left wing publication in jeopardy.
WW rejected our suggestion that they defend the right of all workers publications to fight this malignant TU bureaucracy by appealing to the whole working class. This would put the attack in its proper political context; the refusal of this bureaucracy to lead a fight against the current assault on the class internationally. “That might have worked in the 70s and 80s but not today” WW leader Mike McNair told us. Even legally Wayne King’s case was weak and perfectly defensible had WW taken this obvious step for revolutionaries of appealing to the class. Surely such a campaign would have rallied rank and file workers and their genuine representatives thereby boosting Jerry Hicks and severely damaged Len McCluskey’s Unite Gen Sec election chances. And WW would have won!
The failure of the TU bureaucracy to fight the cuts because they are determined to defend the capitalist system at all cost is exasperating their members who will revolt at some point. This is why they must seek to silence all rank and file opponents to try to keep this revolt leaderless.
Further it has emboldened the most reactionary sections of the Unite bureaucracy and their allies to line up with the management in the victimisation of Gerry Downing in Cricklewood garage—see pages 9-10 Jim Kelly, Andy Newman and Sean McGovern witchhunt the Left in Unite.
The story by Downing defended Abdul Omer Mohsin against his sacking by Sovereign Buses and the manner in which Unite via King conducted the Employment Tribunal. WW identified the central ‘libellous’ sentence as “Omer told his supporters at the employment tribunal that King is indeed a consistent liar. But he is not his own liar, he is the company’s liar.” Those attending the ET are prepared to testify it did indeed brand King a liar. The judgement of the ET (case number 3301372/2010) recounts the incident thus:
8.10. Having decided that Mr Docherty did not refuse to mediate, we concluded that Mr King’s evidence of forgetting whether Mr Docherty was present is, in fact, untruthful and it was intended to avoid another difficult issue for him in this case, namely indeed whether Mr Docherty did refuse to mediate, as Mr Omer alleged. By saying he had forgotten whether Mr Docherty was there, he avoided having to say, as was probably the case, that Mr Docherty was prepared to shake hands and reconcile and that Mr Omer’s evidence on the point was untrue. For all these reasons, we consider that Mr Docherty did not refuse to mediate and that Mr Omer’s evidence was also false (our emphasis).
Abdul Omer knew that King was the only witness who could have verified his story and he failed to do so by lying that Doherty was not present, a fact that the Judge believed he could not have forgotten. Our legal advice on this is that once a witness is deemed to be lying by the court his/her credibility as a witness is destroyed and it is an irrelevant matter on whose behalf he is lying. The fact that the judge said Omer was also lying because it was “probably the case” that Doherty tried to mediate is also irrelevant. Omer’s case is that King was avoiding telling the truth that would have vindicated his version of events. The pages of WW were open to King to reply.
Thompsons told the WW that Unite “supported” the case, however a freedom of information response by Unite claims the union spent no money on the case.
Thompson Solicitors were not disciplined by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal although they were found guilty by the Solicitors Regulation Authority of misdemeanours including ripping off sick miners by charging them contingency fees to the time of £10.9 million when such agreements were not permitted by law. A spokesman for Durham Colliery Mechanics Trust said all its members had willingly signed (sic!)agreements pledging a portion of any compensation packages. The NUM branches in Durham and South Wales were the beneficiaries of this appalling example of illegal collaboration between the bureaucrats’ representative Thompsons and the bureaucrats themselves. And this is the shameful role they have played in this case too.
Gerry Downing said: “I would rather cut my throat than sign the appalling grovelling apology demanded by King and Thompsons. These rights are not mine to concede; they belong to the whole working class and to its militant left and socialist press”.