Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Apology to Liz Snape, Assistant General Secretary of #UNISON

Liz Snape (c) borrowed from Liverpool Echo
Regular readers and eagle-eyed among you may have noticed a blog post a couple of days ago in which I made mention of Liz Snape (LS), an Assistant Secretary of UNISON, which has its (National Executive Council (NEC) meeting today.

I had intended to attend the meeting to resign due to the loss of my job; instead I have come home to use my own personal PC to remove the offending item.

I have removed the post at the request of LS and due to any unintended offence towards her I would like to apologize her in public.

Please - if you have already shared that post - in any form or other e.g. on 'social media' e.g. Facebook or Twitter, please now share this apology too.

Further, as I have also removed the post itself you might also consider removing ('deleting') the tweet, too.

Your sincerely,

Max Watson

Max Watson

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Sandy Nicoll: 'National Executive Committee nomination request'

After a number of people having spoken to me yesterday I have decided to put myself forward as a candidate for the vacant HE NEC general seat. Obviously if there had been more time we could have discussed this more widely amongst activists.

The timetable for getting nominations in, given the nomination period from 1 December 2015 to 15 January 2016 straddles the Xmas shut down, means most branches will at best have only one potential meeting to get a valid nomination submitted.

I have been Branch Secretary at SOAS since 1996 and have held the London General seat on the HE Service Group Executive since 2010. My branch has a track record of being a fighting branch - consistently voting for industrial action over pay, leading the battle against outsourcing through our Justice for Cleaners campaign, showing solidarity with all those in the sector facing attacks, etc.

Within the last month my branch took unofficial action to prevent my victimisation at SOAS, winning a stunning victory that has not only seen my reinstatement but has set back managements plans to impose cuts and job losses which would have devastated the University.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Enough is enough! Good bye and good luck to London Met #UNISON

I want to close the chapter on the seemingly endless battle I've had with London Met University.

First thing to say is I am immensely proud of serving the members of our UNISON branch since 2008. We've had a very rough ride over the years and we've achieved a great deal: from defending jobs, The Women's Library and striving to keep services in-house, to supporting overseas students and winning the Living Wage. In addition to these hard fought campaigns, I represented, supported and advised countless members individually during these last seven years.

Since 2010 I have also served on our union's highest elected body, the National Executive Council (NEC). I am proud to have played my role in the national pensions dispute of 2011 and the Higher Education pay dispute of 2013, which - after three days of coordinated strike action - led to the highest public sector pay rise (two percent) during the last government.

The last seven years have of course been stressful at times and taken its toll.

By stepping down in the summer and triggering a vacancy election for Branch Secretary I had no doubt UNISON members would elect a leadership that will continue to resist robustly and proudly in defense of our members; be they outsourced cleaners, catering staff, maintenance staff, security guards or the directly employed workers. I was right, and Pat Bellew was duly elected at an EGM this autumn.

As a collective we have worked on so much together locally and nationally and I am proud to remember this record as an elected leading member of a union with so much potential for positive change.

So, thanks and good luck to every one for their support over the years, and especially those who supported our campaign in the summer. Too many people to thank individually, but I must mention a few leading activists who have been core supporters: Claire Locke for holding the line as Chair in the last year and a half as well as her predecessors with whom I worked alongside week in week out including Maggie Loughran and Catherine Maguire. And of course stalwarts of the branch, Allan Pike, Alex Tarry and Chris Manna.

And comrades in the UCU, most notably Mark Campbell and Cliff Snaith, have been fantastic to be shoulder to shoulder with throughout.

I miss working with you all.

I also need to put on record my enormous gratitude to those outside of the branch who have been incredibly helpful, including: Sandy Nicoll (SOAS and HE SGE) (featured in film), John Burgess (Barnet, and hopefully soon to become Gen Sec), Jeremy Corbyn (until very recently *merely* our local MP), Paul Holmes (NEC / Kirklees), Bernie Gallagher (NEC / Bolton), Jon Rogers and most of all my partner Gail Cameron who has suffered enough by living through all of this with me.

As they say in Chiapas: 'Ya basta!' Enough already!

Love 'n rage,

Max Watson

Sunday, 15 November 2015


All #UNISON members really should vote for John Burgess and any left activists out there should get involved with the John Burgess for Unison General Secretary campaign. Forget the rest - he's the only rank and file activist worth supporting; with strong a history of standing up to the Tories as Barnet Branch Secretary.

Saturday, 8 August 2015






On Thursday 27 August Max Watson, London Met Uni UNISON Branch Secretary will be making his appeal against compulsory redundancy. Max Watson, is under threat of being made redundant (sign the petition here). He is the only member of staff in his whole faculty being made compulsorily redundant and one of only three UNISON members facing compulsory redundancy among non academic staff across the whole University.
Max has proved time and again to be a staunch fighter of members' interests at the University, and UNISON believes the University is using this round of redundancies to deliberately target Max because he is a thorn in their side.


Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Why I am supprting John Burgess for General Secretary

He is not standing to increase his party's profile or play gesture politics - he is standing to win.

I believe he is the best candidate for the job for good reasons: Firstly, he has lead an inspiring campaign against a viscous Tory council for years, sometimes winning battles against all the odds. His branch have repeatedly taken strike action against the privatisation agenda of Barnet council when the received wisdom in UNISON is this cannot be done.

When London Met University declared they intended to privatise the entire back office, our branch launched a campaign of action which modeled itself on the Barnet campaign against 'Easy Council'. We took advice from John in the now infamous 'Barnet bunker' and we declared a trade dispute around the 'identity of the employer'. 

We won our campaign after weeks and months of relentless campaigning which included a trade dispute and an approved official ballot for industrial action. It was thanks in no small part to the good advice of John Burgess and the help and support of Helen Davies who went on to get elected onto the NEC twice since. 

John is energetic, charismatic, and determined. He has the intelligence and leadership qualities we need to take on this government in this brave new world of Cameron and Osborne's reign.

John has grasped the nettle of privatisation and cuts with gusto and taken legal action as well as industrial action: he fights wiht all weapons at his disposal. 

John threw his weight into a political campaign in the local elections two years ago and the Tories in Barnet almost lost their majority. 

John's support for Jeremy Corbyn, as a Labour party member, has been unequivocal from the word go.

And as a campaigner, John has embraced social media - whether it is via Facebook and Twitter - evidence by his regular updates and growing army of followers. His imaginative songs on Youtube or cartoons and animations with Tim Sanders have truly inspired the rest of us whilst we try to play catch up. 

I believe others with their hat in the ring, whilst great candidates, know in their hearts john has the track record and a high profile 'candidate of struggle and they should quickly withdraw in his favour: we can then discuss how we can all can strengthen his campaign to ensure it become the kind of grass roots movement, with all aspects of the left on board, that Jeremy Corbyn has managed to lead.   

We need a new leadership, we need John's leadership. 

Monday, 3 August 2015

#DefendMax update & thanks for all the support so far

logo by Rev Angel Designs
My last day at work was Friday 31st July so whilst the campaign to #DefendMax continues I wanted to update people and thank everyone for their support for our branch campaign against compulsory redundancies so far. 

Firstly we have an appeal lined up against my redundancy, which is clearly unfair and we believe is due to my trade union activities. That will be in late August or early September (still to be agreed). 

There was also a redeployment opportunity and I expressed interest in a post but news of this role has mysteriously gone silent. During the wait for the appeal, however, technically I'm still eligible for redeployment. 

If those two avenues (the appeal or the alternative position) are not fruitful, and I'm not kept on at London Met, we shall have no other option left but a legal challenge and we are currently exploring this avenue. 

So I wanted to add that whilst this is ongoing the campaign continues: the petition to sign is here, and the photo campaign to tweet #DefendMax is here.

I wanted to thank a few people before disappearing on annual leave: firstly, Gail, my partner has had to put up with hearing about the ongoing saga of London Met Uni since she left the Women's Library in 2012. This is more than most people could bare and I'm forever in her debt for her unswerving support. 

Claire Locke was elected Chair of our Branch the day Bob Crow tragically died and is of his ilk. She leads the toughest branch in all of Higher Education and has to face up to a horrific employer who is hell-bent on making our lives a misery. She lead the rally at our first ever UNISON strike that was not co-ordinated with the UCU (the majority union); her fantastic organising skills and determination mean whatever happens next we can be confident the branch leadership is in good hands. 

There are too many other individuals to mention but John Burgess and Paul Holmes have been incredibly supportive in extremely difficult times over the months and years of struggle.  

As Jeremy Corbyn has changed everything, he deserves a mention too. He has never questioned supporting our branch whenever we've needed and immediately agreed to co-launch our petition against job cuts. Since then we've been excited and inspired by the campaign to elect him as Labour leader: it teaches us, 'anything is possible...' 

Dave Prentis lends his support for #DefendMax
Dave Prentis has pledged 'all necessary resources' to win this campaign, without hesitation. And Wendy Nicholls, the national President, equally stated unequivocal solidarity as soon as we requested it and again at the NEC last week.

My brother mocked up the fantastic #LondonMetCalling by 'The Strike' Clash album mix-up,  which I liked so much the branch printed me a tee-shirt version of it. Jon Rogers called it 'arguably the best strike leaflet in the modern era'! Jon himself also played an important role speaking at some of our rallies on behalf of the NEC, as have other London NEC reps Sonya Howard and Helen Davies.

Sandy Nicoll from SOAS has become a good friend and comrade over years of supporting each other. He will always go the extra mile every time he's needed to help out. We even went on strike on his birthday, 24th July, by coincidence, and we'll never forget singing Happy Birthday to him at the end of our strike rally!

With Claire Locke, Sandy Nicoll, Ros Hanmer,
Helen Davies, Sonya Howard and Alex Tarry
All the members in the branch have been incredible and some of the statements of support for my appeal hearing literally brought tears to my eyes due to the sensitive nature of their situations.

The reps have been brilliant, as ever. London Met UNISON is a fantastic branch to be leading and I remain their humbly elected Branch Secretary and very proud to have been in leading roles since 2009. And, as others have already said: we've beaten them before, so we can beat them again.

The 757 (and counting) people who have signed our petition so far. 

I should also thank the anonymous DJ who sent us about three hours of music to play at our last rally. Sadly, it rained heavily so we had to stop early but we had a great time in spite of the rain. And the equally anonymous person who projected our strike message onto the London Met tower two nights before the strike...

With the messages of solidarity, the help and support from all the above and more, I have never felt alone in this struggle.

Oh, and last but not least a big shout going out to 'Rev Angel Designs' for the lovely logo design (at top of post), called 'Sexy' by Dave Smith of Blacklisting fame! If you want a cool new logo for your campaign, check it out. 

So, this ain't over by any means. We intend to continue our struggle for justice in the workplace, against job cuts and attacks on our union.

We're going to take this all the way, "until the wheels fall off and burn..." But this is it from me for a little while as I'm about to go unplugged whilst I'm on holiday for a couple of weeks.  

Until then, as they always say on the SOAS UNISON Justice for Cleaners picket lines:

"Hasta la victoria, siempre!"

Sunday, 26 July 2015


More than 250 UNISON members working at London Metropolitan University will strike today (Friday) after the university’s continuing financial issues left staff facing the threat of compulsory redundancy.

This follows two successful strike days last month (4 and 25 June) and action short of a strike. This will be followed by continuous action short of strike action which will include a ban on overtime working; not working outside contracted hours; and not covering for leave, sickness or training of colleagues.
London Met proposed 165 job cuts claiming costs needed to be reduced after student numbers fell substantially. UNISON has successfully negotiated the number of members facing compulsory redundancy down to just three. However one of the remaining three is Max Watson, UNISON Branch Secretary.
UNISON is extremely concerned that Max Watson has been targeted in this way. Max is a longstanding activist and a staunch fighter of members’ interests and is the only member of staff in his whole faculty being made redundant. UNISON believes management is using this round of redundancies to deliberately target Max and has called on it to withdraw the notice of dismissal and stop the victimisation of UNISON representatives.
Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary in a message of support said” At a time when the government is taking the cap off student numbers and encouraging more people into higher education, what sort of institution looks to cut back on vital staff?
It is deplorable that the University is still proposing to make three members redundant. Even more so, that our hard working, strong campaigning Branch Secretary Max Watson is one of those three. We know from our struggles over the years that when employers are threatened they try to take out our leaders.
We all know that Max has been a redoubtable defender of UNISON members and that without his work many members would have lost their jobs as the University has sought to privatise and cut back, over the years. UNISON will do all it can to defend our members jobs.”
Staff will be on picket lines from 7.30am at the university’s main entrances – Tower Building Holloway Road, Graduate Centre, The Rocket (Great Hall), Harglenis Building and Learning Centre.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

I wish UNISON would make all NEC meetings fully accessible

A few weeks ago, UNISON's National Delegates Conference passed a rule change about access to NEC meetings. Over the last two years when the NEC meets, there have in fact, been two NEC meetings not one.

One meeting for those able to make it up to the ninth floor of the Euston Rd centre, and another meeting on the first floor for those who suffer from a disability which prevents them from doing so. 

This segregation has been going on since we moved into the 'Great White Elephant on the Euston Rd', as the prolific blogger and fellow NEC member for London rightly calls it.

The top floor council meeting room has floor to ceiling glass windows which mean you cannot avoid looking down onto London from the giddy heights of the tower (see photo). So if you suffer from vertigo you simply cannot be in that room.

And for those who fear lifts or suffer from acute claustrophobia, it's a very long walk up all those stairs.

I've heard horror stories of asthma sufferers walking up to the ninth floor when the lifts aren't working (this happens regularly). And bizarrely, I've seen a dozen NEC members stuck in a broken lift, a metre below the ground floor, as they wait to be rescued and the rest of us eat our lunch.

A consistent group of conscientious NEC members, in solidarity with the Local Government General Seat member, Paul Holmes, who is not able to go up to the ninth floor, sit with him in a video conference room on the first floor. It is just not right to leave our fellow NEC member sitting alone talking through a mic to the rest of the council just because he has a disability.

Video conferencing is sometimes hailed as a technological solution to the difficulty of holding regular national meetings; e.g. when a member cannot get to London for the day.

Sometimes members of the HE SGE connect with the rest of us from their regional offices via a video link up. It isn't perfect but it meant their voice is heard and they are able to vote.

When it is in the same building, however, it is a curious option and is unreasonable to impose it on somebody because of their disability.

There is a simple, agreeable solution: to all meet on the ground floor. But this has apparently been ruled out by the powers that be.

So the response to any repetition of this reasonable proposal is now met with untenable explanations. For example, we are told the sound quality is not good on the ground floor - yet the sound of the video conference facilities aren't exactly great either. I've experienced both and I know which I prefer. If the sound quality needs to be improved down there, then so be it.

We met in the NUT building recently, because the UNISON lifts weren't working again. At the end I pointed out the NEC meeting was much better when we can all see and hear each other on equal terms. Whenever somebody tries to raise this point, however, we're told we are not going to discuss individual member's access requirements which is not the same thing at all.

When you make a contribution (I almost always do), it is much more preferable to see the response of the rest of Council. If you see people nodding their heads or visibly listening to what you have to say - if they're switching off and reading their blackberries or if they're muttering loudly for you to 'shut up' - you can clearly gauge peoples reactions.

When you sit in the room downstairs, however, you only get to see the pixelated faces of the top table and crackling voices through a mic. You have to ask the chair to introduce the speakers by name because you only hear their voices and you can't see them speak. And from the top table you cannot see the NEC members downstairs room at all, only hear their voices.

Imagine there was a separate NEC room for wheelchair users.

When you sit in the room downstairs, and a vote is taken you have to ask for a count from the Chair but even if you do get a count you cannot see at a glance who voted which way.

All these things are important to full participation in what is supposed to be a democratic decision making body.

One NEC member snarled back at me during an email exchange that raising the issue of access to NEC meetings was becoming an 'annoying din', which is just rude.

A cynic might argue this discrimination against Paul Holmes is punishment for standing in the 2010 General Secretary election. This regular election by the way, as Jon Rogers repeatedly points out, was held exactly five years ago and yet we still don't know the timetable for this election for this crucial post.

Others have called this 'disability apartheid' pure and simple: those of us on the left caucus of the NEC (2013-15) signed a statement and circulated it at last year's NDC, which cause a minor uproar among the top table. It was followed by an NEC meeting which for the first time actually discussed for a minute or two an issue we've not been allowed to raise or vote on previously by any of the last three Presidents.

The same NEC member who slapped this complaint down said that leaflet was 'potentially libelous'. As union activists we should expect to be threatened with libel laws by our employers on occasion, but to be threatened by a fellow trade unionist on the NEC with these pernicious laws designed to stifle free speech is unforgivable.

UNISON has a clear stance against all forms of discrimination - so we should ensure all NEC meetings are fully accessible.

I wish UNISON would think again about the message this gives to members with disabilities. And I wish some people in our union would be a little more open to free speech and allow criticisms to be voiced without such blatant over reactions.

Finally, I hope we in the new 2015-2017 NEC will be able to end this unreasonable situation by voting to meet altogether in a fully accessible room.

We shall see.

Friday, 3 July 2015

I joined the Labour Party #Jeremy4Leader

(c) David Hardman

I joined the Labour party less then a week after the Tories took power on May 7th as I didn't want to be disenfranchised when it came to the leadership contest. Also, I wanted a voice in the London Mayoral candidate selection.

At first I thought I may as well abstain in the Blairite beauty contest until suddenly some bloke called Jeremy Corbyn threw his hat in the ring and electrified the debate.

This photo is of us sharing a joke at one of our many rallies defending jobs and education at London Met Uni just before the leadership race began.

You can rely on Jeremy - we have done for years in our branch - and not just to make us laugh...

In fact I realise now we've taken him for granted. Like withdrawing your labour, you notice things most when they're gone. And as he has been up and down the country talking in debates and hustings I believe the last three days of strike action at London Met Uni are the first three days he has not visited our picket lines in solidarity.

He deserves our total support and I hope others will join Labour to reclaim it from the cuckoos in the nest.

I have my first constituency party meeting tonight where I'll be voting for Jeremy as a card carrying member of the Labour Party.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 23 June 2015


23 Jun, 2015


UNISON have called another strike against job cuts at London Met Uni on 25th June, and launched action short of a strike from 23rd June.


1) Join our picket lines from 8.30am:
  • Tower Building
  • Rocket
  • Learning Centre
  • Moorgate, and
  • Calcutta House.
The Governors are still refusing to meet with or listen to UNISON so we're striking on the day students get their exam results. We will be asking students and staff to:
2) Sign the petition and share with all your networks and lobby management to resolve our dispute. 
3) Come to our Rally – when? 12.30-2pm , Where? Tower Building, 166-220 Holloway Rd, London N7 8DB
Speakers include Roger McKenzie, Assistant General Secretary, UNISON.
4) Give us your money!
If you would like to make a donation to our hardship fund please send cheques payable to 'UNISON London Metropolitan University', to Christian Manna, UNISON treasurer, London Met Uni, 166-220 Holloway Rd, London N7 8DB
5) Join the Facebook event.
7) Tweet with  the Hashtag #HandsoffLondonMet – you can print off this leaflet and tweet a photo?
8) Come to our social afterwards
El Comandante (4pm-): 10 Annette Road, Holloway, London, N7 6ET
9) Fwd / share this page with all your networks and social media.
10) Print the attached leaflets (both our Strike leaflet and 'Actively Disengaged' leaflet) and hand out at other events.
Go to UNISON branch website for more:

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Strike rally footage

Strike rally footage
As well as the message of thanks we already posted with photos of our strike rally last week, we have since been circulating footage online. To get a flavor of how determined and lively the lobby was watch here:
'No ifs, no buts - no education cuts!' (Chanting and drumming):

Thanks again for everyone who came out last week. We are in the process of arranging a meeting with management - and as soon as we get that meeting we will update you. Until we get an agreement on no compulsory redundancies we will continue with our dispute. 

Monday, 8 June 2015

RESULTS: NEC elections, left make significant gains

The following candidates have been elected to the NEC under the 'Reclaim the Union' banner for the UNISON NEC elections, 2015 (*indicates a gain -  otherwise they're an incumbent). Check out our results here. 

Needless to say, I'm delighted with the gains we've made. Not least because my running-mate Tomasa Bullen was re-elected with a comprehensive majority, meaning Higher Ed members have retained our two fighting reps on the NEC. Thanks to all who helped her re-election. 

In fact all left incumbents who appeared on the ballot paper held our seats.

As readers of this blog probably know (I think I know both of them personally) I'd already been re-elected unopposed although this was only officially confirmed today. 

I'm looking forward to the next NEC at the National Delegates conference very much indeed. Congratulations all and well done team. 

Wednesday, 3 June 2015



UNISON and UCU are out on strike against job cuts at London Met Uni on 4th June.


1) Visit our picket lines: all London Met Uni buildings will have pickets on 4th June, 8.30am-11am
2) Come to our Rally outside the original Women's Library building; where the London Met Board of Governors are having their 'strategy day'.
When? 12-2pm
The Governors are refusing to meet with or listen to UNISON to resolve our dispute, so we're going to have to turn up the noise …
6) Tweet with  the Hashtag #HandsoffLondonMet
7) Come to our social afterwards …
Where? Duke of Somerset, 15 Little Somerset Street, London E1 8AH
From 3pm …
8) Fwd this email to all your networks.
9) Print the attached leaflets (both our Strike leaflet and 'Actively Disengaged' leaflet) and hand out at other events.
10) Contact us with your ideas on what else we could be doing and what you can offer…
Go to UNISON branch website for more:

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Reel News Film - 'London Met: Stop the job cuts'

A major battle is brewing at London Metropolitan University, where a clueless management is making 165 job cuts - further perpetuating a download cycle which is ruining a university that gives more opportunities to working class and ethnic minority students than any other university. Strike action is now imminent on Thursday April 21.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Lobby the Board of Governors, Tuesday 12th May

Lobby the London Met Board Of Governors
Tues 12th May, 4:30-6.00pm

Join us on Tuesday 12th May as we call on the London Met Board of Governors to halt these proposals and join with staff and students to find an alternative plan to grow the university and create a stable future.

See a PDF of the above poster - please this print off and put it on a noticeboard near you. Please forward far and wide. 

Join the Facebook event here:

Sign here to support:

Thanks for all your support so far.

In solidarity,


On behalf of the UNISON Branch Committee

Saturday, 25 April 2015



It's official – UNISON are balloting for strike action UNISON officials informed London Met University we are to ballot all our directly employed members for strike action and action short of a strike (work to rule), on Friday 24th April. We strongly recommend you vote yes to both questions. 

25 Apr, 2015
11149445_10153238927169726_91918810770007463_nStaff and students alike have been shocked by the Vice-Chancellor's recent announcement of further imminent widespread redundancies planned for both academic staff and professional service departments. We believe that these cuts threaten the future survival of London Met as we know it. Our concern is shared by many outside the university and we believe that our campaign to stop these cuts can galvanise wide support in the larger community.
That's why we've organised a public meeting "Hands Off London Met: Defend Jobs-Defend Education" at London Met on Tuesday 28th April.
The meeting will take place at 6:30pm in Room TM1-83 of the Tower Building of North Campus on Holloway Rd. The meeting will be addressed by
  • Jeremy Corbyn MP,
  • Liz Lawrence {President of UCU},
  • Jon Rogers {UNISON National Executive Committee},
  • Aaron Kiely {London Met student and National Union of Students National Executive Committee} and
  • Sean Vernell {UCU National Executive Committee}.
The meeting is open to members of the community and we expect attendees from other HE institutions within London.We strongly urge all UNISON members within London Met to come along to the meeting. We attach a PDF copy of a flyer for the meeting, please print and distribute to as many of your colleagues as possible.


Thursday, 9 April 2015

The easyCouncil Loco-motion

"There's a new dance craze sweeping the nation - Do the EasyCouncil"... Cartoons by Tim Sanders. Barnet UNISON members have voted to strike with an 87% yes vote. They deserve our union's full support.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Re-elected onto the NEC - Reclaim the Union leaflet for Higher Education

Download our A5 leaflet as a PDF here.
I'm happy to announce I've been re-elected unopposed to ‪‎UNISON‬'s National Executive Council so I can continue representing Higher Education in the General Seat for another two years. 

Thanks to all in the 17 branches who nominated me this year - it's great to have so much support from the leading, active branches. As I'd suggested at the time, it was never clear if anyone would get more than two branch nominations to stand against me.

So the task now is to ensure we also re-elect Tomasa Bullen back onto the Higher Education female seat and vote for all Reclaim the Union candidates. I've enjoyed working closely with Tomasa - she's a fantastic allay to have on side.

So 'Reclaim the Union' have produced our own leaflets for Higher Education, which include the full left slate for regions on the back as well as the national black members candidates on the front (see image).

They'll be in the post to anyone who wants to help keep Higher Ed flying the flag of resistance to austerity and anyone who wants to see a union with real teeth, not just a dental plan.

And with the recent Local Government Special Conference going completely our way (see the prolific Jon Rogers' own account and helpful collection of links here) there is, in my view, all to play for.

Whilst there are notable pockets of local branches bravely resisting the cuts we all face, imagine what a national UNISON with a decent leadership could achieve? Get involved if you want to make that a reality.

Friday, 20 March 2015

I wish UNISON would be more creative in our campaigning, like 'Barnet: The Disappearing Council' film

Those incredible campaigners at Barnet UNISON Local Government branch have again shown us how to get a message across with ingenuity and creativity. We need more of this.

I wish UNISON would regularly put out more of this kind of campaigning material instead of those (slightly dull) talking head films I'm guilty of taking part in.

Prioritise Motion 108 at UNISON NDC 2015: Withdraw support for the Tax Refund Company

Please prioritise Motion 108 for UNISON's National Delegates Conference.

London Met University Branch - alongside our close neighbours in the City and Islington FE College - are calling on UNISON to withdraw support for the Tax Refund Company - Personal Taxation Services. We tried to submit this through the region but we ran out of time.  

The motion is set out below and is self explanatory. Furthermore we have written to our members discouraging use of this service and sent a letter to the Chair of the Services to Members Committee all of which we've put on our website here. I had to dissuade a member from leaving our union after using their 'service' which is in fact a profit making operation, not a UNISON in-house service.  

We should be a campaigning union; an organising, democratic organisation that encourages participation in our collective resistance to injustice in the workplace. We should not simply be a 'servicing' union without muscle. 

However, when we do provide services to members, at the very least we should provide a decent one. 

So please prioritise Motion 108: Tax refund Company. Our members deserve better. 
This Conference notes: 

1. The Tax Refund Company is advertised to UNISON members by email and through letters to their home address. This company has been advertised to members as 'UNISON's Tax Refund Service - check you're not paying too much tax!' 

2. The information in the adverts which are sent to members have emphasised the word 'free' by putting it both in bold and uppercase. 

3. UNISON has used the following language to inform members about the 39% fee for using the service: "for every £1 of tax they get back, you will get 61p, GUARANTEED" 

4. HMRC provide clear advice on their website about how to claim your tax back for free. 

5. UNISON provide welfare support to members through our own Charity 'There for You'. 

This Conference believes: 

1. Advertising the Tax Refund Company as 'UNISON's Tax Refund Service - check you're not paying too much tax!' gives the false impression that it is a UNISON owned service. 

2. Highlighting the word 'free' gives the initial impression to a member scanning the information that it is a free service for members. 

3. The persuasive language used to advertise the company is misleading UNISON members by disguising the amount of fee to be paid. 

4. UNISON should only be advertising services to members which are ethical and in the interest of members. 

This Conference resolves to call on the NEC to: 

1. Withdraw its support and promotion for the Tax Refund Company to members 

2. Provide clear information to members about where to find the information about how they can claim their tax back free of charge. 

3. Provide Welfare officers at a local and regional level with information and guidance on how to support members to claim their tax back free of charge. 

4. Review all products and services endorsed by UNISON – and confirm that they are ethical and in the interests of members.