Friday, 13 January 2017

I wish UNISON had a decent 'unemployed membership'...

Many moons ago a friend came to visit me at London Met Uni, where they used to work and indeed were very active in UNISON. They'd taken a job elsewhere - at another Uni in fact - but it didn't work out.

So they applied for 'unemployed membership' but were told by London Region they weren't eligible.

They were now in between jobs, doing voluntary work with charities etc (which UNISON has a sector for) but they decided if UNISON - who they'd been loyal to for many years and active for almost as long - didn't want their hard-earned dole money some one else would get it. 

I promised I would take it up on the NEC and see what we can do to change things.

Of course, I didn't say *when* I would take it up and there's nothing like a dole queue to focus the mind... 

Me? I also transferred my membership to another Uni where I took on some part time work for a while but the contract ran out. So I stopped paying my subs which means - I believe - I'm not eligible for unemployed membership and anyway what's the point of UNISON's unemployed membership? Let's be honest; the powers that be in the London Region supported me like a rope supports a hanged man.

Our Full Time Official after the legendary Harry Lister - who was a good egg - can be heard asking not one but two friendly questions to Linda Perks in this recording of evidence widespread cheating to get Dave Prentis re-elected. He even suggests new ways to ahem, get round the rules... (Lots more here). 

And Prentis? Don't get me started... I wouldn't want to find myself writing another one of these now do I?

Unite the Union, on the other hand, is a general union which doesn't seem to care if you were made redundant, resigned or simply been out of work for ages and want to join a union which is visibly fighting for all working people - employed or not - and regardless of 'public' or 'private' sector.

So now I get emails like the one below encouraging me to be active as a 'progressive' person. What a good idea...

I wish UNISON did lots of things - and I blogged a few of those 'wish list' items over the five years I was on the NEC (2010-2015). 

I find not being on the NEC liberating and not even being a member of UNISON sort of similar. I imagine this is true for my inspiration - for this blog at least - Jon Rogers, was someone who encouraged me to stand for the NEC: 'you'd be an excellent NEC member... let me buy you a drink' etc. - 

It's liberating not to be on the NEC for a number of reasons which I won't go into here - for good reason. 

Jon has his own reasons I'm sure - and I have to add how refreshing it is to see someone step back from the 'levers of power' and hand over with a planned succession plan. 

Anyway good luck all of you still in UNISON. And those still fighting the good fight on the NEC and in London where we have a peculiar problem. And lots of luck to those seeking to transform the union by standing for the NEC. This year is gonna be a big chance to see a shift to the left. 

Right, now - get off the internet, I'll see you on the streets!

On January 21, Donald Trump will spend his first day as President of the USA. To mark this day progressive people around the world are determined message of unity and solidarity. Your union is supporting the London part of this global day of action with Women's Marches happening in 20 major cities across the world. Our sister union in the US, the Unite Steel Workers union will be marching in Washington calling for the protection of women's reproductive and worker's rights. A further 76 demonstrations are happening across the US. Be part of this global movement and join us - bring your friends and family and banners.

Use this day to send a message that the politics of Trump and his views on women and minorities are not ours. Unite stands for Unity and Solidarity and that is why we are marching.

When: 12pm, Saturday 21st January 
Where: Meet outside of the American Embassy, Grosvenor Square W1A – We will be supplying Unite flags and the march route is
Rally: 2-3.30pm at Trafalgar Square

For further information about how to get there see here The March
Image from the TUC Library, currently housed at London Met Uni...


Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Apology to Liz Snape, Assistant General Secretary of #UNISON

Liz Snape (c) borrowed from Liverpool Echo
Regular readers and eagle-eyed among you may have noticed a blog post a couple of days ago in which I made mention of Liz Snape (LS), an Assistant Secretary of UNISON, which has its (National Executive Council (NEC) meeting today.

I had intended to attend the meeting to resign due to the loss of my job; instead I have come home to use my own personal PC to remove the offending item.

I have removed the post at the request of LS and due to any unintended offence towards her I would like to apologize her in public.

Please - if you have already shared that post - in any form or other e.g. on 'social media' e.g. Facebook or Twitter, please now share this apology too.

Further, as I have also removed the post itself you might also consider removing ('deleting') the tweet, too.

Your sincerely,

Max Watson

Max Watson

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Sandy Nicoll: 'National Executive Committee nomination request'

After a number of people having spoken to me yesterday I have decided to put myself forward as a candidate for the vacant HE NEC general seat. Obviously if there had been more time we could have discussed this more widely amongst activists.

The timetable for getting nominations in, given the nomination period from 1 December 2015 to 15 January 2016 straddles the Xmas shut down, means most branches will at best have only one potential meeting to get a valid nomination submitted.

I have been Branch Secretary at SOAS since 1996 and have held the London General seat on the HE Service Group Executive since 2010. My branch has a track record of being a fighting branch - consistently voting for industrial action over pay, leading the battle against outsourcing through our Justice for Cleaners campaign, showing solidarity with all those in the sector facing attacks, etc.

Within the last month my branch took unofficial action to prevent my victimisation at SOAS, winning a stunning victory that has not only seen my reinstatement but has set back managements plans to impose cuts and job losses which would have devastated the University.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Enough is enough! Good bye and good luck to London Met #UNISON

I want to close the chapter on the seemingly endless battle I've had with London Met University.

First thing to say is I am immensely proud of serving the members of our UNISON branch since 2008. We've had a very rough ride over the years and we've achieved a great deal: from defending jobs, The Women's Library and striving to keep services in-house, to supporting overseas students and winning the Living Wage. In addition to these hard fought campaigns, I represented, supported and advised countless members individually during these last seven years.

Since 2010 I have also served on our union's highest elected body, the National Executive Council (NEC). I am proud to have played my role in the national pensions dispute of 2011 and the Higher Education pay dispute of 2013, which - after three days of coordinated strike action - led to the highest public sector pay rise (two percent) during the last government.

The last seven years have of course been stressful at times and taken its toll.

By stepping down in the summer and triggering a vacancy election for Branch Secretary I had no doubt UNISON members would elect a leadership that will continue to resist robustly and proudly in defense of our members; be they outsourced cleaners, catering staff, maintenance staff, security guards or the directly employed workers. I was right, and Pat Bellew was duly elected at an EGM this autumn.

As a collective we have worked on so much together locally and nationally and I am proud to remember this record as an elected leading member of a union with so much potential for positive change.

So, thanks and good luck to every one for their support over the years, and especially those who supported our campaign in the summer. Too many people to thank individually, but I must mention a few leading activists who have been core supporters: Claire Locke for holding the line as Chair in the last year and a half as well as her predecessors with whom I worked alongside week in week out including Maggie Loughran and Catherine Maguire. And of course stalwarts of the branch, Allan Pike, Alex Tarry and Chris Manna.

And comrades in the UCU, most notably Mark Campbell and Cliff Snaith, have been fantastic to be shoulder to shoulder with throughout.

I miss working with you all.

I also need to put on record my enormous gratitude to those outside of the branch who have been incredibly helpful, including: Sandy Nicoll (SOAS and HE SGE) (featured in film), John Burgess (Barnet, and hopefully soon to become Gen Sec), Jeremy Corbyn (until very recently *merely* our local MP), Paul Holmes (NEC / Kirklees), Bernie Gallagher (NEC / Bolton), Jon Rogers and most of all my partner Gail Cameron who has suffered enough by living through all of this with me.

As they say in Chiapas: 'Ya basta!' Enough already!

Love 'n rage,

Max Watson

Sunday, 15 November 2015


All #UNISON members really should vote for John Burgess and any left activists out there should get involved with the John Burgess for Unison General Secretary campaign. Forget the rest - he's the only rank and file activist worth supporting; with strong a history of standing up to the Tories as Barnet Branch Secretary.

Saturday, 8 August 2015






On Thursday 27 August Max Watson, London Met Uni UNISON Branch Secretary will be making his appeal against compulsory redundancy. Max Watson, is under threat of being made redundant (sign the petition here). He is the only member of staff in his whole faculty being made compulsorily redundant and one of only three UNISON members facing compulsory redundancy among non academic staff across the whole University.
Max has proved time and again to be a staunch fighter of members' interests at the University, and UNISON believes the University is using this round of redundancies to deliberately target Max because he is a thorn in their side.