Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Vote for Tomasa Bullen, Higher Education Female seat, to Reclaim our union

[X] Tomasa Bullen, Higher Education Female seat

I'm really glad Tomasa, from Southampton, is standing on the 'Reclaim our union' ticket, as she is an excellent candidate (see here for a full list of candidates of the left). 

I am backing Tomasa all the way and in the next few weeks I'll be campaigning for her election to join me on the NEC to represent Higher Ed - this is an important seat to win for us, there is no incumbent and it's a very winnable seat. 

We need more people like Tomasa on the NEC who have the experience of standing up for members with a strong voice - she has plenty of experience and in the last couple of years has been in the middle of the Southampton District dispute (unusually, Solent Branch is still part of the local Government district branch - don't ask ... !).

Activists in HE will recognise Tomasa as having a quiet nature but commanding respect and always speaking up for a strong, fighting stance on behalf of our members. 

We fought valiantly within UNISON to keep the fight over the pensions alive last year and in HE we were able to harness some of the anger and frustration people felt over the way that dispute fizzled out into significant electoral gains. Lets now win this important seat to help secure a strong, left voice for HE within UNISON. 

There are stacks of 'Reclaim the Union' leaflet in the regions. So get in touch if you can help.

The full text of Tomasa's letter to branches:

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 atTomasa.bullen@solent.ac.uk 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

Friday, 12 April 2013

'The Margaret/ Maggot Thatcher Legacy'

A member of London Met UNISON Branch sent me this moving piece the other day, and I agreed to publish here anonymously, on her families' behalf, in full and without any apology, in order to show some respect for the living:

In the eighties our union
invited four mining families
to visit and stay in some of our London homes
By that time - these families had nothing.

Living on hand-outs and charity
Under threats of eviction
Having already sold every asset scrap
We paid their fares to London.

Never was a meeting more poignant
A tough strong strident resolute man
His wife and daughter nervous by his side
He rose to speak - in the Council Chamber.

"I'm not a clever man, like these London Politicians...
I've worked down the pit since I were fourteen
that's thirteen years now and...
Although it's dangerous and hard physical work, I did it for my family.

We, in the mining community - have seen terrible things
The police brutality, we've come to expect...
But the Tory Judas SCABS are collecting their silver pieces"...
A clearly big man's shoulders began to sob - silently as he sat down.

A Durham miner's wife picked up the Welshman's theme...
"In the north tis the same my bairn's go to school hungry,
Are there any words in this world to explain why...
A child in the eighties, in the forth richest country of the world
Should be starving"? The answer is Mrs Margret Thatcher's hatred of the working

A Derbyshire Miner - walked slowly to the front, and said with so much dignity...
"We miners are facing genocide - yes genocide, not from Gulags or gas chambers
But from the obliteration of our industry.
I see Arthur Scargill as the only person strong enough, to help us through these times"

Much to the surprise of the first Welsh speaker, his little girl asked to speak...
"I'm not very good with English, but I know how children feel,
I want all this to go away and my Mum and Dad to not row anymore...
About money and things, I've told Daddy he can sell my dolls house."

Can any one mourn the loss of such a monster who caused so much hurt?

Thursday, 11 April 2013

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The beautiful design of the 'Stop the witch hunt' logo was created by the super-professional, quick to turn-around and fully-on-board 'RevAngel', who does 'design for dissidents'. Just in case you were wondering ...

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Monday, 8 April 2013

Relected to #UNISON NEC, 2013-2015

I'm delighted to report I've been re-elected to UNISON's National Executive Council (NEC) for a third time.

I received a letter confirming I am the only candidate in the NEC election for the Higher Education General Seat, so there is no need for a ballot: I've been elected unopposed.

In 2010 I fought a successful election campaign in a by-election and shortly afterwards in 2011 I was elected unopposed. I received nine branch nominations in 2010, then 19 in 2011. This year I received 15 branch nominations and no other candidate was able to muster the two branch nominations required to stand against me.

It would be nice to have a fresh mandate from the members, but obviously I'm glad not to have to campaign. And the endorsements I received from a wide range of branches - and the support from branch activists which this represents - I feel is also a strong mandate.

Last month I fought for my own job and won reinstatement. I'm extremely grateful for all the support I received then and glad not to have to fight an election now as a lot of work needs to be done fighting the Tories and their friends (such as the management of London Met) who are dismantling the welfare state and attacking the poor; they are privatising the public sector or cutting it down to the bone; and they are victimizing union reps when they fight back.

So thanks to all those who supported my election campaign again this year, and to those who fought to stop London Met from sacking me and two of my colleagues. There is still a disciplinary against me, so maybe see you on the 17th?
UNISON members in Higher Ed would have received my 500-word manifesto which I'm now publishing below so you can keep me to account and make sure I continue to argue for a fighting, democratic union.

If you backed me for the NEC, please now put all your efforts into getting Tomasa Bullen elected onto the HE Female seat and for all the left candidates standing for the NEC.


Our union needs a fighting leadership to stand up to this vicious government of cuts and privatisation, which is why I think you should vote for me: 
Pensions dispute
The key issue last year was the pensions dispute, which gave us a taste of what we can do when we come together and resist the Government the way we did in November 2011. Public opinion was on our side, and our members felt confident. We discussed bringing members in other pensions schemes (like SAUL) and private sector unions into a 'second wave' of strike action in 2012 but instead the dispute fizzled out, which has demoralised members and activists who feel let down. 
Pay Freeze
We must be determined if we are to break the pay freeze: our members are increasingly feeling the pinch of rocketing food, fuel and travel costs. We must begin to rebuild the unity the union movement showed in the pensions dispute. We need to demonstrate we are serious and will take the action necessary to win, not just another one day strike. 
Job cuts
As a militant trade unionist, I've taken leading roles in the London Met branch since 2008, and our branch is now strong and well organised. We fought against job cuts in 2009 and 2011 with successful strike action. We doubled our redundancy pay and had significantly reduced compulsory redundancies. I believe the NEC needs activists with such experience in order to resist the tide of redundancies across the country and support those fighting at  branch level.
In 2012 our branch fought a huge battle against 'Shared Services' which was an unprecedented attempt to privatise the back offices of our University – the entire non-academic staff were at risk of transfer to a new company managed by a private company. We refused to accept 'the inevitable' and we fought their proposals with a vibrant campaign, which mobilised our members and we won.
Overseas Students & UKBA
Our branch fought against the UK Border Agency who revoked 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.
Living Wage
I'm fully committed to the Living Wage campaign. During national pay talks I have persistently pushed this issue back onto the agenda. I've seen the positive effect winning the Living Wage had on our low paid members lives, so I know how important it is and can support branches who want to win it locally too. 
When elected in 2010, I committed to being accountable to members and be open about my positions. You can check my record on my blog: 
I'm an independent socialist, not a member of any party, and part of the UNISON United Left. 

Please also vote for Tomasa Bullen for the HE Female Seat, who is also standing for a 'fighting, democratic union'.