Care home workers in web campaign victory

Small mercies

A hosting firm caught up in a row over the pay of carers for the elderly has reversed a decision to shut down an online campaign against cuts.

Old people's home provider the Fremantle Trust has been involved in a dispute over wages and conditions for about 140 workers in north London since March. Employees said they were ordered to accept a 30 per cent reduction in pay, and lower holiday entitlement and sick pay or lose their jobs.

An early day motion criticising the pay squeeze has been signed by 50 MPs.

An online campaign against the cuts was mounted by the activist website LabourStart.org, which is hosted by 1&1 internet. It invited supporters to send a form letter to Fremantle's chief executive Carol Sawyers. Last week, 1&1 were contacted by the Fremantle Trust, which alleged that statements in LabourStart's post were defamatory.

1&1 told LabourStart to take the campaign down by 12 noon last Friday or face being shut down. They reluctantly complied, but not before the campaign had been mirrored on servers abroad at wewillnotbesilenced.org.

After talks with Unison's legal team, 1&1 did a U-turn on Wednesday, and told LabourStart that the campaign was legit as far as it was concerned. A 1&1 spokesman told El Reg: "We examined the website for potentially defamatory material and communicated to the customer that if such material was found, the website could be taken offline. We found no evidence of defamation in this case.

"I can confirm that Unison was in contact with 1&1 and provided information relating to this website. According to generally accepted industry procedures, 1&1 does not routinely monitor the content of the millions of websites it hosts."

There's background on the row in this report in Barnet's local newspaper. Fremantle was not available to comment. Barnet Unison's blog is here. ®

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