Appeal for solidarity against victimisation

Gill Whittaker, PCS activist and President of Chesterfield TUC is under threat of vicitimsation. Her union branch is calling on trades unionists to write to management in support.

RE: TU Victimisation of Branch Secretary Gill Whittaker PCS

Gill Whittaker has been the subject of victimisation by her employer the Department of Work & Pensions. Gill has been accused of intimidating strike breakers as they cross a lawful & peaceful picket line.
Gill has never acted in anyway that would be deemed illegal whilst on picket duty but her employer and District manager Keith Burn have taken it upon themselves to lodge disciplinary charges against Gill, so that she would stop being an effective Trade Union Activist.

Gill has been at the forefront of our campaigns in our branch and is also a well recognized individual within the community in Chesterfield due to her role as President of Chesterfield & District TUC and throughout the rest of Derbyshire and the Midlands, not only in our own union but in the wider trade union movement.

Quite clearly this is an attack on an activist within the trade union movement and we are mounting a campaign to stop her management from taking this action, already they have failed to produce evidence for Gill in relation to the Data Protection Act by purposely “sitting” on the request and as at the time of writing this letter we are at 80 days and still no information has been provided.

The DWP is trying to get rid of activists like Gill and we believe that if Gill is disciplined for these actions they will not stop at coming after other reps in the DWP.

We are calling on trade union activists everywhere to help us in this campaign. Attached is a draft letter addressed to the District manager responsible for bringing these allegations we are urging you to distribute the letters amongst your members and ask them to write to Mr. Burn, please feel free to alter the letter. Pressure needs to be forced onto the DWP to back down, already we have had one very successful public meeting in Chesterfield and more are planned for Derby City.

We need more reps and activists like Gill not less so if you believe in the phrase ‘an attack on one is attack on all’ please help in the campaign in any way that you can.

Simon Boulton
DWP PCS Derbyshire Branch Chair

DRAFT OF LETTER

Organisation heading if appropriate

Name and address

Keith Burn
District Manager
Jobcentre Plus
St Andrews House
London Road
Derby

May 2006

Re: GILL WHITTAKER

I am writing to express my concerns (and those of the organisation I represent) (delete as applicable) at the recent treatment of Gill Whittaker, the PCS Branch Secretary for Derbyshire, who is also President of the Chesterfield and District Trades Council.

I understand from Gill’s union branch that she is facing potential disciplinary action by Jobcentre Plus in the course of the lawful picketing of her workplace on one particular day during the current dispute over large scale job cuts.

I further understand that Gill has made a request for information under the Data Protection Act that, to date, she has not been provided with. I am advised that Jobcentre Plus is now well outside of the 40-day legal requirement to comply with the request from Gill. Indeed, PCS has informed me that the delay is deliberate and that you are personally responsible for delaying Gill’s request.

I am also very concerned to learn that during the “fact-finding” investigation, that only staff breaking the strike have been interviewed. I understand that one of Gill’s colleagues who was present at the time the allegations relate to has not been interviewed as part of the “fact-finding”.

Thirdly, I have been informed that Gill has recently been subjected to two examples of threatening behaviour from staff crossing the picket line, including having a clenched fist held close to her face by a male member of staff. I would be grateful if you could assure me that you will pursue this issue with the same vigour as you have the allegations by strike-breakers.

I understand that a recent incident was witnessed by two of your managers. I am concerned that Gill herself has had to make a complaint and that neither of your managers have made any efforts to do so.

I look forward to a full reply to the concerns I have expressed. For the avoidance of doubt I/we are writing with the full support of Gill’s union branch of with the express consent of Gill herself.

Yours faithfully

Name



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