Campaign news

Keith Henderson and the GMB.

23rd October 2013

Keith Henderson and the GMB.

Earlier in October we published material about the dispute between Keith and the GMB leading to his dismissal from a full-time position with the Union and the resulting Employment Tribunal decision. Here Keith puts his case in a letter to LRC members:

Dear LRC Members,

I am a 28 year old trade unionist and committed left wing democratic socialist. I have been in a trade union for many years and a shop steward since I was 19. I am a Labour Party member for 5 years and I have been a member and keen supporter working alongside my comrades in the Essex LRC and nationally for 3 years. I was a branch secretary for 4 years of one of the biggest branches in the GMB London Region and a employee for over 3 years as a Regional Organiser.

I feel it is important that I write this letter to make people viewing this debate aware of the facts of my employment tribunal case and I will respond to some of the points that are in Paul Kenny’s email to John McDonnell MP.

My complaint of religion and belief direct discrimination was successful, and my complaint for religion and belief harassment was successful in part. But my complaint of unfair dismissal failed.

I have proven that the GMB Union did discriminate and harass me because of my philosophical belief of left wing democratic socialism. The tribunal stated “Clearly the respondent (the GMB) has dismissed the second claimant (me) and he has therefore been subject to less favourable treatment. Further the tribunal concludes that the second claimant has proved primary facts from which a tribunal could properly and fairly conclude that there has been a difference in treatment between the claimant and the hypothetical comparator because of the claimant’s philosophical belief.”

The tribunal went on to say that a substantial part of the reasoning behind my dismissal was because of my philosophical belief of left wing democratic socialism and was an effective cause of my dismissal.

The tribunal also stated from its findings of fact, the tribunal concludes that the respondent (the GMB) did engage in unwanted conduct towards the second claimant (me). That unwanted conduct was in the tribunal’s view related to the second claimant’s protected characteristic (left wing democratic socialism) and did have the purpose of creating an intimidating, hostile or humiliating environment for the second claimant to work in.

One of the practical manifestations of my left wing democratic socialist beliefs was carrying out the wishes of GMB members during the pensions’ dispute day of action on 30th November 2011. A meeting of the House of Commons branch of the GMB had voted to strike on that day and at a special branch meeting had voted unanimously to put a picket on the House of Commons and to ask Labour MP’s not to cross the picket line.

Point 17.5 of the tribunal judgement then explains what happened next. “Mr Paul Kenny then personally telephoned the second claimant, shouted at him saying that the Day of Action letter he had written was ‘over the top’ that it was too left wing, and ordered the second claimant to allow all Labour MPs to cross the picket line. The second claimant made it clear to Mr Kenny that he was doing his job by carrying out his instructions from the GMB members at the House of Commons.”

For information purposes I have applied to the Watford Employment Tribunal for a reconsideration of the aspect of the judgment that says I was fairly dismissed.

An historic new legal case precedent has been set in that the tribunal concluded that having applied the law set out at paragraph 25 of the judgment, the tribunal is satisfied that left wing democratic socialism is a philosophical belief for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010. Therefore in conclusion the GMB Union has been found guilty so far of discriminating and harassing a Regional Organiser of the union because of my philosophical belief in left wing democratic socialism.

I urge all socialists that support me in this struggle to express their support for me by writing to Paul Kenny, GMB General Secretary ( to urge my reinstatement.

Yours In Solidarity

Keith Henderson
Essex LRC Member

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