In November 2010, Sandy Nicoll successfully stood for a bi-election for the London General seat of the Higher Education Service group Executive. Since winning that election, Sandy has proved a key member of the Exec, leading by example and always contributing to debates by sharing his vast experience and voting with his principles.
Sandy commands a rgeat deal of respect in the sector - from all quarters. In my view it is crucial we re-elect him - and all other left candidates - especially since the pensions dispute. In his own words:
Dear London UNISON HE colleague,
I am seeking re-election to the Greater London Region General Seat on the Higher Education Service Group Executive.
My branch has a proud record of standing up to cuts and attacks on jobs, uniting with students and lecturers in fighting fees and defending access to education. Our successful campaign in winning the London Living Wage and trade union recognition for the SOAS cleaners and contracted out staff within the institution stands as an example of how we can defend and enhance the interests of the most vulnerable in the workplace.
But the experience of the last two years of the Tory-led coalition Government has shown that fighting on a branch level alone is not enough. The stakes are very high. Higher Education, like the wider public sector, is facing unprecedented levels of attacks on pensions and pay, endless restructuring, "shared services", jobs losses and privatisation. While institutions like London Met are bearing the brunt of this onslaught, it is being replicated across HE institutions in London.
Our members face yet more stress and insecurity while students from poorer backgrounds are further deterred from accessing the education that could make a real difference to their lives.
The magnificent public sector wide pensions strike on November 30th last year showed beyond doubt that UNISON members are prepared to fight for our terms and conditions and the services we deliver.
That's why I voted on the HESGE in January this year that our union should reject the Heads of Agreement proposal and argued instead for further co-ordinated action with unions like the PCS, UCU and NUT to defend our pensions, rejecting proposals that leave our members paying more, working longer and getting less.
We need to unite across the public sector to build a real 'counter-coalition' of trade unions and community groups to protect the services that we and other working class people rely upon.
That also means changing the culture of our union from one that seeks only to negotiate deals on behalf of members to one that organises and is genuinely member led, by seeking to involve every member, encouraging activists and welcoming debate.
That is why I am standing for this important position on our Service Group Executive which will be at the forefront of defending our pay and conditions.
I have been a Greater London Region representative on the HESGE since 2010, the Branch Secretary of the SOAS UNISON Branch for the past 15 years, and was Chair of the UNISON London Region Higher Education Committee from 2008 until 2011. I am a member of the Socialist Workers Party and active in the UNISON United Left.
Please also consider voting for Molly Cooper and Emilse Ocampo Medina for the Greater London Region Female and Reserved seats on the Higher Education Service Group Executive.
Use your vote for a real defence of Higher Education.