Press release - Unite leaders enforce injunction to prevent Gordon McNeill from protesting at Transport House
29 August 2008
“Not only are the Unite leaders trying to deny me the right to speak, now they are also trying to take away my democratic right to protest” Gordon McNeill
Unite leaders this afternoon served Gordon McNeill with a court summons in order to prevent him from continuing his protest outside Transport House in Belfast. Gordon now faces the prospect of imprisonment or fines or both as a result of the injunction barring him from protesting in Transport House that was taken out against him by Unite Regional Secretary, Jimmy Kelly.
Gordon was peacefully protesting outside the building – which is closed for renovations - demanding that the Unite leadership pay him the compensation that they have paid his fellow shop stewards, Chris Bowyer and Madan Gupta, but without the gagging clause that would prevent him from ever again speaking about the role played by union officials in this dispute.
This protest has been because Gordon has refused to sell his right to tell other trade union members the truth about what happened to himself and his colleagues. Unite General Secretary, Tony Woodley and Regional Secretary, Jimmy Kelly have offered him £40,000 if he will sell this right.
As Gordon has said in a letter that is
now being circulated throughout the trade union movement in Britain, Ireland
and beyond: “The truth about what happened in our dispute is part of the
history of the labour movement and, as such, is the property of the whole
movement. It is not mine to sell.”
In response to this vindictive attempt by union leaders to imprison a trade union activist, protests are to be organised next week at Unite offices throughout Britain and Ireland. There will be a protest in Belfast outside the Amicus office, AEEU House 26 Antrim Road (where all Unite officials are currently based) on Monday 1 September at 1pm.
After being served with the summons Gordon said:
“This just shows the lengths that the Unite leadership are prepared to go to keep me silent. Tony Woodley and Jimmy Kelly are so determined to shut me up they are prepared to put me in jail rather than allow me to protest outside an empty building!
”It is a scandal that trade union leaders should use the courts to prevent a peaceful protest. They are setting a dangerous precedent that will be taken up by employers and by the government to prevent pickets and protests by trade union members or by communities.
“If Tony Woodley and Jimmy Kelly think that, by approaching me with a bribe in one hand and a court order in the other, they will shut me up they can think again. I am appealing to all trade unionists to stand with me to defend the basic freedoms of speech and association”
For further information contact Gordon