Attempt to gag Civil Service union

Submitted by Anon on 21 March, 2003 - 1:57

Press statement issued on 11 March by the East London branch of the Public and Commercial Services Union in the Department of Work and Pensions
The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCSU), which represents workers in Social Security and Jobcentre offices, have been told that they cannot campaign against the Government's war drive against Iraq. Posters advertising the Stop the War Coalition's activities have been forcibly removed by managers from Union notice boards. The Union has also been banned from issuing e-mails to its members on the subject of anti-war campaigning.

Department for Work and Pensions East London branch chairperson Oli Rahman, who works at Poplar Jobcentre, condemned the move as censorship. He said: "This is a blatant attempt to gag the burgeoning opposition to the war. Clearly senior managers are worried about the groundswell of opinion that opposes this unjust attack on Iraq. Our Union both nationally and at branch level have democratically decided policies, endorsed by the overwhelming majority of our members, opposing war in favour of peace. We fully intend to organise civil disobedience amongst our members, if and when, the day war breaks out."

Charlie McDonald, branch secretary, who is based at the Stratford Social Security office, added: "We want to make it absolutely clear that we are not apologists for Saddam Hussein. We see our task as to build solidarity with the Iraqi people. We want regime change but this should happen through the Iraqi people democratising their country not by dropping bombs on Baghdad. It's interesting that our government tell us that this is a war for democracy yet we aren't allowed to express our democratic or human rights to freedom of expression."

He warned that senior managers would face disruption on a scale that would put the placing of posters on notice boards into perspective.

More details from: Oli Rahman 07957 543834 or Charlie McDonald 07949 842416

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