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Official warning

05 Mar 2007, 13:37

Official warning

Original Story

Sunday, March 04, 2007

By Joe Oliver

The leader of the UK's largest telecommunications union has launched an angry attack on the Official IRA.

It follows mounting concern among postal workers in Belfast over threats made to a local trade union official before he was due to give evidence at an industrial tribunal.

The incident happened last November, but resurfaced in recent weeks when leaflets were distributed criticising the lack of response from the CWU to what was described as "trade union intimidation".

At the time Billy Hayes, general secretary of the Communications Workers Union (CWU), described comments in the leaflets as a "gross inaccuracy" - but also ordered members to refrain from discussing the matter if approached by the Press.

Now, in a letter to all members of the CWU's No 1 branch, Mr Hayes revealed that he had met with the victim and his family and was doing all in his power to ensure their safety.

He said he was "convinced that these threats are real and extremely disturbing".

The tribunal case - lodged by a postal worker against the Royal Mail - had to be adjourned when the CWU official told of the threats.

It's known that three men, purporting to be from the Official IRA or 'Stickies', called at his home on the night before he was due in court and told his terrified partner he would "end up in every ward of the Royal (Victoria Hospital)."

The official later stepped down from his union post.

Mr Hayes rounded on the Officials in his latest communique, stating: " CWU headquarters unreservedly condemns this act and is committed to actively oppose all forms of discrimination in industry, the union and society in general.

"To this end, the CWU shall actively oppose any organisation, political or otherwise, whose aims are racist or fascist.

"Therefore any members associated in any way, shape or form, however tenuous, with this activity should immediately desist."

He added: "I trust that upon reading this letter you will offer your support to our member and his family and do whatever you can to ensure that the union's values are maintained and upheld."

One member of the union's No 1 branch in Belfast told Sunday Life: "It may have taken time, but the general secretary's comments have been warmly welcomed.

"In the wake of his condemnation, we now want the senior branch officers to call an urgent meeting and add their voices to the outrage felt by many ordinary members."

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