Thursday, 21 November 2013

Police and the stifling of legitimate protest

Police and the stifling of legitimate protest

Your front-page story that the police spied on the political activities ofstudents at Cambridge University (Undercover police target students, 15 November) fits in with the way the police have prosecuted students protesting over the last few years. Following the 2010 demonstrations against tuition fees, counter terrorism police were used to process cautions in the police station. The police went on to charge more than 60 students of good character with violent disorder, the second most serious public order charge, which carries with it an almost inevitable prison sentence on conviction. Thankfully, Alfie Meadows's acquittal earlier this year and the acquittal of the large majority of those who went to trial, have gone some way to undermine the use of excessive charging by the police and prosecution.
Matt Foot
Solicitor, Birnberg Peirce & Partners
• We the undersigned unreservedly condemn the arrest of University of London union president, Michael Chessum, for allegedly organising a demonstration apparently contrary to the Public Order Act (G2, 19 November). This arrest coincides with the revelations that Cambridge police have been attempting to pay students to inform on fellow student "activists", and follows the arrest of a student activist in the 3Cosas campaign in the ULU building itself. We believe it is time to reiterate the basic position that universities are centres of learning and we condemn the increasing role of the police on university campuses to stifle legitimate protest.
All names in a personal capacity
Molly Cooper Unison Greater London women's rep service group executive Max Watson Unison NEC and London Met Uni Unison branch secretarySandy Nicoll SOAS Unison branch secretary and London region general seatUnison higher education service group executive,Simon Deville Branch secretary, Birkbeck Unison, Sean WallisPresident, University College London UCU, Secretary London HE UCU, UCU NEC, Louise Lambe Unison HE memberYassin BenserghinUCL Unison vice-chairGyta Nicola Branch secretary IOE Unison, Des Freedman Secretary, Goldsmiths UCUUlrike Sommer UCU departmental rep for the Institute of ArchaeologyTom Hickey Chair, UCU co-ordinating committee, David Hardman London Met UCU membership secretary, Jacqueline Sheehan Branch chair UCL Unison,Dr Laurie Stras Southampton University UCU exec committee member,Marian Mayer Vice chair BU UCUDr John Fry Department of physics, University of LiverpoolMark Campbell London Met UCU (chair), UCU NEC, Daragh O'Reilly Manager, marketing and cultural industries division, Management School, University of Sheffield, Sophie Hope UCU Birkbeck branch secretary, Mike Lammiman VP University of Hull UCU,Dr Karen F Evans Senior lecturer, department of sociology, social policy and criminology, University of Liverpool, John Baxter UCU co-ordinating committee member, Sheffield College, Mark O'BrienMembership secretary, University of Liverpool UCU, Marian Mayer Vice-chair, BU UCU, Javed Khanzada Unison HE member, Lesley McGorrigan UCU, NEC member and Yorkshire and the Humber regional secretary, Ciara Doyle UCUKath Owen Yorkshire & Humberside Unison service group executive, Dr James Chiriyankandath Senior research fellow, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London, Dr Geoff Williams UCL UCU Immediate past (joint) president, Dr Andy Higginbottom Principal lecturer, international politics and human rights,Kevin MoloneyCliff Snaith UCU London Met secretary & UCU London region secretary, Louis Bayman Department of film studies, Oxford Brookes University, Richard McEwan UCU NEC, Dr Sue McPherson Sheffield Hallam University UCU branch officer, Pauline Croft Professor of early modern history, Royal Holloway, University of London, Professor John NewsingerAndy Coles UCU study coach at University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University,Graham Mustin Joint branch secretary, Barnsley College UCU, Dr Julie Hearn Department of politics, philosophy and religion, Lancaster University, Dr Jennifer Fraser UCU Birkbeck branch, joint president,Linda Milbourne Birkbeck UCUDr Rebecca Gumbrell-McCormickSenior lecturer, department of management, Leo ZeiligHewal SoresUCU equality officer, Bradford College, Dr Mark Abel UCU University of Brighton, Allister Mactaggart UCU branch chair, Chesterfield College,Laura Miles Chair, Yorkshire and Humberside regional council UCU and UCU NEC, Anthony Leaker Lecturer in humanities, University of Brighton, Matthew Raine Birmingham University Unison branch secretary, West Midlands region general seat, Unison higher education service group executive, Dr Chris Cocking Senior lecturer, Dr Saladin Meckled-Garcia Vice-president, UCL UCU, David GraeberJonathan Gilhooly Lecturer, Brighton University, Professor David Oswell Head of department, department of sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London, Alex Colas Birkbeck UCUProfessor Raphael Salkie School of humanities, University of Brighton, Louise Purbrick UCU member, University of Brighton, Professor Gargi Bhattacharyya UELAlberto Toscano Department of sociology, Goldsmiths, Patrick ConnellanBranch secretary, Nottingham Trent UCU, Helena Reckitt Senior lecturer in curating, department of art, Goldsmiths, University of London,Kalbir Shukra Goldsmiths UCU

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

“Strikes at the drop of a hat”: struggle for justice not over

Today is the TUC Day of action against blacklisting. Thousands of workers were condemned to unemployment by being put on a blacklist in an ongoing travesty of justice. We observed the similarities of their struggle when I was suspended from work this year with two of my colleagues

The LRD have an interesting article giving some background to the Blacklist. 

Struggle for justice is far from over 
On the second anniversary of legislation intended to control blacklisting, Labour Research finds that the law is failing to deliver proper redress to those whose lives have been devastated by the practice — which, campaigners say, continues. 
Electrician Alan Keyes had not been able to get work in the London construction industry since working on London Underground’s Jubilee Line extension in 2000. In 2009 he found out why — an 18-page file kept by the infamous blacklisting service The Consulting Association (TCA). 
Entries on his file included “do not employ”; “militant” and “strikes at the drop of a hat”. 
TCA’s blacklist of more than 3,200 construction workers — overwhelmingly trade unionists — was uncovered following a raid by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in February 2009. 

UNISON (and other affiliated union) members can read the full article online if signed in. And make sure you affiliate to the LRD if your branch hasn't already done so - we need them now more than ever. The article has a copyright to the LRD so do not reproduce it without their permission. 

Good luck to the Blacklist support group - their fight is our fight. 

Crucial information

Monday, 18 November 2013

Higher Education Strike: Interviews with striking staff

'Raw interviews with striking staff at LSHTM, Senate House, UCL, SOAS and LSE' by Adrian Cousins See here for more.

Higher Education Strike October 31, 2013 - UNISON TV

Go here for more.

Universities Halloween pay strike - 'UnionNews' FILM

UnionNews reports from Glasgow as university staff take strike action against the imposition of a sub-inflation 1% pay rise. It comes after the value of take-home pay among university workers across the UK has fallen by nearly 15% in four years.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Saturday 9th November: UCU Left National Conference

I was invited to speak at the UCU Left National Conference and immediately agreed as I firmly believe we need to build stronger links with academics at such an important time for our sector. UCU Left have now opened their event out to UNISON left activists in Higher Ed as well.

This is very welcome, as we've had real unity in action lately and taken successful nationally coordinated strike action together only last week, so it's crucial we are well organised and we build stronger ties for the future. I think this is also a good opportunity to share experiences and learn lessons from each other about how we have worked as a left in our different unions. 

So maybe I'll see you there? Book your place here: