National Executive Council (NEC), Higher Education General Seat
Max Watson, London Metropolitan University Branch
Membership number: 5260154
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: http://maxwatsonunison.blogspot.co.uk/
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.
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: http://www.unison.org.uk/elections/