Monday, 28 January 2013

The first three nominations confirmed...

Thanks to the following branches for nominating me for the NEC:

* Southampton Solent University Branch;
* University of East London Branch; and 
* Loughborough University Branch 

The first time I stood for election to the NEC, in 2010, I received 9 Branch nominations, the second time in 2011, I received 19 Branch nominations. If I get anything like that this time I'll be delighted. 

Each nomination tells me branch activists, at their already busy Branch Committee meeting, took the time to read my letter and agree to back me. It also tells me a hassled Branch Secretary has to fill out yet another form in between casework, recruitment and organsing. 

So thanks for the support, I know what that all means. Best wishes, and keep them coming... 

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Nominate Tomasa Bullen, HE Female seat, NEC

Tomasa Bullen Membership number: 1574876
Southampton District Branch: 08256
Dear Colleague,

Re: Nomination for UNISON National Executive Council (NEC) Higher Education Women's seat.
I am writing to ask for the nomination of your Branch for the Higher Education Women's seat on the NEC for the period 2013/2015.

I have worked in Higher education for 30 years and I am currently a part-time Admin Officer responsible for data management at Southampton Solent University. I am also Chair of Southampton District Branch which covers Southampton City Council, Southampton Solent University, FE and 6th Form Colleges, schools, Community and Voluntary services. I have seen the devastating effects of cuts to public services on both the service providers and those who rely on the services provided and I am determined to fight closures, privatisations, out-sourcing, shared services, or whatever else they may be called, with whatever tools available. Over the past three years, I have been involved in several disputes within Southampton, starting with Medirest workers at Southampton general Hospital successfully campaigning for improved wages and conditions; the initial strikes to defend Libraries and leisure services and then the protests to protect and ultimately restore the pay of local government workers. I have campaigned against out-sourcing in my own University and have been successful in maintaining and in some instances improving terms and conditions for those staff whilst continuing to campaign for a Living wage and a return to direct employment. I shall continue to campaign vigorously for all workers threatened by unnecessary cuts and privatisations. I am very pleased that Southampton has now set up a "Defend the NHS" group and we managed to get 40 members to demonstrate outside of the NHS offices on a cold Wednesday afternoon at 4pm and hand in proposed revisions to the constitution.

As a part-time worker, I have experienced the difficulties of being asked to do a full week's work in part-time hours and living on part-time pay. The gender pay gap remains a serious issue as does gender segregation in job roles and these need to be addressed if we are to eliminate all forms of discrimination and work in a sector which genuinely is based on "equal pay for work of equal value" and where support staff are not seen as being of less value to academic staff. My latest campaign is harmonisation of holiday and sickness schemes and an independent review will be carried out in 2013.

Higher education, based on a system of free education and maintenance grants is perfectly affordable through the taxation system. As a Union, through the NEC, we should be reminding the public of the value of higher education, its benefits to both the national and local economies compared with the real cost of the current expensive and ever expanding system of loans administered through the Student Loan Company. We should also be campaigning on the threat posed by the increasing fragmentation of the education sector leading to a divided and increasingly selective primary and secondary education system. This will have far reaching consequences for staff terms and conditions and the quality of education available for those without the means to pay for what I believe to be a basic human right: education.

Outside of Higher Education, UNISON should support all members engaged in
a.       the fight against privatisation and/or cuts to pay and conditions;
b.       defending themselves against all forms of discrimination;
c.       protecting and enhancing Trade Union rights; and
d.       using our funds to support only those politicians who support UNISON's policies.
I have been a Trade Union member for 31 years, first joining whilst working in the Health Service and then joining NALGO when I first started working in higher education, just over 30 years ago. I do not belong to any political party and strongly believe in a fighting, democratic union, led by its members taking part in the democratic process with politicians only receiving support from UNISON if they openly and actively support our policies. I have no qualms in speaking up and no worries about being "unpopular". If elected, I would like to keep in contact with Branches so that I can represent your views and report back on the outcomes.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I know how busy you are. I hope that your Branch will support my nomination and election. I would also ask that you support Max Watson, current NEC member for HE and Chair of London Metropolitan University. If you haven't received his letter seeking your nomination, please let me know.
If you have any questions, or wish to discuss anything further please contact me at or 01380319972. I would be happy to attend your Branch Committee to give a fuller account of the views outlined in this letter.
Yours sincerely
Tomasa Bullen

Monday, 7 January 2013

Nominate Max Watson, London Metropolitan University Branch, for National Executive Council (NEC), Higher Education General Seat

National Executive Council (NEC), Higher Education General Seat

Max Watson, London Metropolitan University Branch

Membership number: 5260154

Dear colleague,

I am seeking re-election to the National Executive Council (NEC) so I am writing to branches asking you to nominate me for the Higher Education General Seat. Since I stood for election in 2010 we were still anxious about the future under a Tory-led Government, now there is no doubt just how vicious this government is and the need for a union leadership that is up to the task of resisting their relentless attacks.

The Pensions dispute
The key issue last year was the pensions dispute, which gave a flavour of just what can be achieved when the labour movement unites and resists together as we did on the magnificent day of action on 30th November. Popular opinion was on our side, members felt confident and those who had marched together in March 2011 felt the impact of taking strike action together. Then the momentum was scuppered and within a few days around Christmas last year strike action was called off and the dispute fizzled out.  

The demoralisation of this story for the labour movement cannot be overestimated and I believe the poor result of the pay ballot was indicative of this: we need a leadership which doesn't back down so quickly and is prepared to lead the action necessary to win.

My record on the NEC speaks for itself: I have called for coordinated action from the beginning, stood and was elected on such a platform, and have continued to argue throughout my time on the NEC for the need for such cross-union solidarity and for maximum action against the government's onslaught.

My record at London Met is of a militant trade unionist as Chair of a strong, fighting branch. We fought against job cuts in 2011 with successful strike action; we doubled the redundancy pay and significantly reduced the compulsory redundancies. In 2012 we fought a huge battle against Shared Services which was an unprecedented neoliberal privatisation of the back offices of our University – the entire support staff were at risk of transfer to a new company managed by a private company such as CAPITA or BT. We refused to accept the 'inevitable' and we fought their proposals with a vibrant campaign, mobilised our members and we won.

We also fought against the UK Border Agency trying to shut us down entirely by revoking our license to recruit international students this year. Once again we mobilised our members, working with the UCU and the local student union, and this campaign was also successful: a high court injunction allowed students at London Met to continue their studies this year.

Building confidence: Living Wage
The difference these successful campaigns has had on the confidence of our members has had a real impact. We are a highly visible and strengthened branch. We always involve and mobilise our members to take action for themselves – and we never leave them to do nothing whilst we go to (often fruitless) negotiations (so demoralising during the pensions dispute).

The confidence in our ability to make gains was boosted even more after we fought for and won the Living Wage at London Met despite the cuts in 2010-11. The proudest moment for me personally as Chair was to watch Tamar Emmanuel, our Young members' officer, delivering the moving speech (her first) for the Composite Motion on the Living Wage at last year's HE conference.

One other issue I took up last year was the issue of breast-feeding mothers being excluded from conferences – it became apparent to me that women with breastfeeding babies were not allowed access to UNISON events when a member of my branch was not allowed to enter the HE conference or the fringe meeting on the Living Wage.  I took this issue up on the NEC and our branch submitted an amendment to a motion to NDC. The rules were rapidly changed and I'm proud to say the union is more inclusive for women as a result.

Keep Higher Ed on the map
Higher Ed is a quirky part of UNISON and I am honoured to represent our fiercely independent nature and our ability to remain comradely and friendly despite big political differences. We have avoided any of the witch hunts that have soured relations in other service groups which I have always denounced. The Higher Ed Service Group Exec were the only section of UNISON to vote to recommend a rejection of the LGPS proposals and I'm proud to be part of such a fighting, spirited leadership.

I am always happy to come to branch meetings for questions, feedback and comments. Just email me or check my record via my blog:

Nominate 'Max Watson, London Metropolitan University' for a fighting candidate on the NEC to continue speaking up on your behalf. 

Please also nominate Tomasa Bullen, Southampton Solent University Branch, for the HE Female Seat, who is standing alongside me for a 'fighting, democratic union'. If you haven't received her letter calling for nominations, let me know.

In solidarity,

Max Watson

Thanks for taking the time to read this – I know how busy you all are. Please note the nomination period will open on Wednesday 9 January 2013 and closes at 5pm on Friday 22 February 2013.
See attached the nomination form or you can call 0845 355 0845 and for more info go to: