Campaign to Reinstate Paul Jonson – statement and press release

JVL Introducton

At the end of October we reported on the suspension of Paul Jonson, a community safety officer in Dudley and a member of Unison, by his employer Dudley Council. We called for full support him saying that his suspension was  “an attack on every trade unionist’s right to engage in political and human rights’ campaigns outside work”.

We are delighted to report that Paul has been reinstated and that there is “no case to answer” on the complaint of antisemitism.


 

Campaign to Reinstate Paul Jonson Statement & Press Release

Victory as Paul Jonson reinstated – “no case to answer” on complaint of antisemitism

Date: 4 JANUARY 2019


The Campaign to Reinstate Paul Jonson is extremely pleased to announce that shortly before Christmas, Paul was reinstated to his post as community safety officer at Dudley Council with immediate effect.

Paul’s reinstatement represents an important victory for free speech and for trade union and employment rights. It is also a victory against attempts to use the controversial IHRA “working definition” of antisemitism to suppress criticism of the state of Israel and solidarity with Palestine.

Jim Warner is Assistant Secretary of Dudley Trades Council. DTC helped co-ordinate Paul’s defence campaign:
“We are pleased that common sense has prevailed. Our campaign received tremendous support across the trade union and Labour movement. This was an issue of basic trade union rights. However, we also believe that to equate criticism of Israel can only divide us in the fight against real antisemitism and the rise of the far right.”

Paul Jonson said on his reinstatement:
“My suspension was never simply an individual disciplinary matter. This represented an attack on free speech and the right of trade unions to campaign over political issues, and an attempt to suppress solidarity with the Palestinian people.”

Paul was formally suspended on 31 October, after 30 years of service with the council. A complaint against Paul by the “Campaign Against Antisemitism” drew directly on the IHRA “working definition” of antisemitism, citing a post by Paul promoting a lobby of local MP, Ian Austin, over civilian deaths in Gaza. In the post Paul posted “Stand with Palestine – Israel is a racist endeavour”.

However, on 19 December, Paul was informed that a complaint of alleged antisemitism against him was dismissed. It was found Paul had “no case to answer” regarding his post, nor had he brought the council into disrepute.

The complaint against him was a disgrace. Demands that Paul be sacked give the lie to assurances that the IHRA “working definition” do not jeopardise trade unionists’ right to campaign on Palestine. Individuals may have strongly held and differing views on the state of Israel but there was nothing antisemitic in anything Paul posted.

Paul took a highly principled stand just weeks before his retirement, insisting that his suspension represented an attack on basic trade union freedoms and that his name be cleared. Paul has a longstanding record as a principled local campaigner against racism and fascism and has actively opposed mobilisations by the Nazi EDL and BNP.

We wish to extend heartfelt thanks to all the trade union and Labour Party bodies, individual trade unionists, academics, campaigners and Jewish supporters who supported Paul. Over 800 signatories signed the statement in support of Paul presented to Dudley Council.

We believe that Paul’s case highlights how important it is for trade unions to oppose the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) “working definition” of antisemitism. This highly controversial, non-legal “working definition” and its illustrative “examples”, dangerously confuse criticism of the state of Israel with antisemitism.

Antisemitism is a real threat, growing alongside Islamophobia, racism and anti-migrant hate. Ethnic minorities, trade unionists and the left all face a common danger as the forces of the far-right grow across Europe and the UK. It is vital we unite despite strongly held differences we may have over Israel – Palestine and that we defend the principles of free speech and trade union rights.

We believe Paul Jonson’s victory shows that there is a majority who will support these principles and that solidarity can win.

Comments (1)

  • RH says:

    Excellent news.

    … but let’s not forget the others who have been traduced in similar fashion.

    “Antisemitism is a real threat”

    But combating it isn’t helped by the right’s cynical use of the charge as a political weapon, and the pretense that it exists where it clearly doesn’t.. Quite the reverse.

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