A UNION activist who was viciously abused and had his car tyres slashed may have fallen victim to a fascist backlash egged on by government rhetoric, his branch warned yesterday.
Branch secretary John Burgess was organising pickets for Barnet Unison’s strike against council outsourcing on Tuesday — but returned home to find nails stuck into the front wheel of his car.
Thugs had also left a notice pinned to his windscreen reading: “Fucking union faggotts (sic) get back home from here!”
The homophobic profanity follows Barnet Unison’s presence on London’s Pride parade, which Mr Burgess attended carrying the union banner.
Activists said it was a “strong coincidence” that the branch had mounted vocal opposition to a fascist demonstration due to take place in Barnet last weekend. It was subsequently moved by police to central London.
But the branch issued a statement suggesting that Tory ministers shared responsibility for the hate-fuelled attack, saying their “demonisation” of unions encouraged this type of personal attack on individual trade unionists.
“We are proud that we were part of a larger community mobilisation which meant fascists could not raise their heads in our community,” said branch chair Helen Davies.
“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.”
George Binette, Unison secretary in the neighbouring north London borough of Camden, also spoke out in disgust.
“This is a perverse tribute to the effectiveness of John’s tireless commitment to both his members and the defence of public services,” he said.
“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.”