Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Nominate Tomasa Bullen NEC, Higher Education Female Seat

Tomasa Bullen Membership number: 1574876
Southampton District Branch: 08256

I am writing to seek nomination for the NEC elections – I hope to be re-elected onto the Higher Education Female seat.

I have worked in Higher Education, and been a member of a Trade Union for 33 years. 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 almost all service groups.

I have been on the NEC since 2013.

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. I have been involved in numerous disputes within Southampton. 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 cuts and privatisations.

Strategically, Higher Education is facing the following:
  1. The gradual move to four discrete higher education systems within the United Kingdom with the consequent threats to national pay bargaining;
  2. The continued attacks on pension schemes and the growing call by some Vice Chancellors to try to "opt out" of decent pension provision;
  3. Pay in all its forms remains a live issue with an increasing gap between pay for staff and senior managers.
  4. Discrimination in all forms remains and needs to be strongly addressed if the sector is truly to move to "equal pay for work of equal value."
  5.  Continued restructures, job cuts and out-sourcing.
As a union we should be:
  1. Campaigning for free higher education for all who wish to benefit from it paid for through general taxation. This is affordable. The lack of debate over the current fee regime shows just how disastrous it is.
  2. Reminding everyone that it is only through a highly skilled workforce that the economy will grow and prosper as we prepare students to take on the new jobs in the global economy.
  3. Campaigning against the additional difficulties caused by the Government's visa system for overseas students;
  4. Improving staff terms and conditions including pay, pensions, holiday and sickness schemes for all support staff and genuine equality of opportunity. This includes the Living Wage for directly and in-directly employed staff whilst continuing to oppose all forms of out-sourcing, privatisation, shared services; and
  5. protecting and enhancing Trade Union rights.
I do not belong to any political party and strongly believe in reclaiming UNISON so that it is 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 about speaking up and being "unpopular".  Higher education needs an active voice.
I hope I can count on your support.

Please also nominate Max Watson for the Higher Education General Seat.

Tomasa Bullen
13th January 2015

Tuesday, 13 January 2015


To:       All Higher Education UNISON Branches,

Dear Branch Secretary / colleagues,


I'm seeking nominations for the Higher Education General Seat of the NEC, a seat I've held since 2010.
I'm currently Branch Secretary of London Metropolitan University Branch. Since 2008 I've played a leading role in my branch and we've achieved a great deal, including:
·         Leading a fight against job cuts in 2009 and in 2011;  in 2009 we took three days strike action alongside the UCU, stopping the outsourcing proposals and saving 200 jobs; in 2011 we doubled the redundancy pay and the university opened a voluntary redundancy scheme when we took strike action;
·         Successfully campaigning for the Living Wage in 2011. In 2014, London Met was accredited as a Living Wage Employer due to our persistence. Our outsourced cleaners, catering staff and security guards are all well organised now, with reps in each area and a high density;
·         Stopping a massive 'Shared Services' / privatisation proposal in 2012, which would have been an unprecedented private contract in the sector
·         Campaigning against the deportation of 2,000+ overseas students when the UKBA withdrew our Highly Trusted Sponsor status in 2012; we won an injunction and the students were allowed to continue their studies here;
·         I was then suspended for five weeks in 2013, threatened with dismissal with two others, which lead to a huge campaign against trade union victimisation which we won; we were reinstated and I'm still active our workplace despite ongoing attacks. We submitted an Employment Tribunal claim for trade union victimisation and although unsuccessful we have an imminent Appeal hearing.
We've many new reps and activists as a result of these campaigns and struggles and have a healthy, lively branch, with regular events and a strong shop stewards committee taking on case work on the front line on a daily basis.  On top of these branch responsibilities I've also played a lead role in two major national disputes:

1)         Pensions
Taking a robust line to defend the LGPS in 2011; I objected vigorously to the sell-out particularly for those of us who are not protected by being closer to retirement. The HE Service Group Exec was the only part of the entire union to call for a 'reject' vote for the shoddy proposals and I'm proud of that. We should never have agreed to have separate negotiations over the different schemes which divided the TUC unions. USS is being attacked and some universities are moving to opt out of their pension obligations altogether.

2)         Pay
In 2013-2014, UNISON's Higher Education Service Group, with our sister unions in the sector, lead a courageous dispute over pay and it paid off. We won a two per cent increase after three days strike action and the threat of action short of a strike by the UCU. There were difficulties – and two percent does not cover the cost of living increases we've witnessed over the years – but we came away with our heads held high.

We won movement toward the Living Wage and ultimately we were the first part of the public sector to 'break the pay freeze' thanks to our hard line. I believe we could have won much more if we had escalated earlier and been bolder from the beginning, rather that keep things on the 'slow burner' which is why we started losing support when it dragged on.

Further attacks include: tuition fees and drastic cuts to HE funding; attacks on international students; constant restructures and job cuts; outsourcing and the privatisation of our entire sector; national bargaining at risk and de-recognition of our union is a reality in some places.

With these challenges, our union needs a strong, fighting leadership with experience in resisting these kinds of attacks both nationally and locally. If re-elected I'll continue to consistently call for a fighting, democratic union, and seek to 'Reclaim our Union'.

Please get in touch about any of the above if you want to find out more and if you want to invite me to speak at your branch I'm more than happy to visit.
Please forward this letter to your branch committee and put the NEC elections on the agenda before 20th February 2015 (5pm).

Also, I'd encourage you to nominate Tomasa Bullen, Southampton District branch (membership number 1574876) for the Higher Education Female Seat. See attached also a nomination form which the branch secretary needs to fill out.

In solidarity,

Max Watson
Membership number: 5260154

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Charlotte Monro Employment Tribunal demo - 20th Jan 9.30am

UNISON members passed policy in 2014 to ensure our union's NEC monitors known cases of union victimization and to support those activists who are on the front line being attacked. 

One such case is Charlotte Monro who, you will remember, found herself on a trumped up charge and eventually dismissed by Whipps Cross hospital trust last year after she alerted her members to the imminent threat of job cuts. For more background to her case see here and here.

So it's incumbent on all of us to show maximum support Charlotte who is still fighting against this injustice with an Employment Tribunal claim (see below). Our national union is quite rightly supporting her case already - but there is no harm in reiterating that support at this crucial time. 

We rightly said it was inevitable that more cases like these will occur whilst we continue to resist austerity. So let's make it as difficult as possible to get away with these attacks and show Charlotte as much solidarity as we can. 

An injury to her is an injury to our entire union movement and an attack on our beloved NHS too. 

So, see you on Tuesday 20th January, first thing in the morning before the tribunal proper starts. 


Charlotte Monro's Employment Tribunal has been re-scheduled  and will now take place  from:

Monday 19th January until Friday 23 January.

The tribunal is expected to go on for five  days: we may get a decision on Friday

We plan to hold a support gathering outside the Tribunal  venue  on TUESDAY 20th January from 09.30 to 10.00.
We aim to make some brief speeches, take some pictures and hopefully  be photographed by  the press.

It would be great if as many of you as possible could come along to support on the day. The show of support made such a difference to Charlotte last time and was noted by the press.

We have some placards and the Reinstate Charlotte banner.

Please bring Trade Union and campaign banners and placards ....but please no party banners or placards.

The venue is Anchorage House, Clove Crescent, London E14 2 BE 
From Docklands Light Railway station  East India :  Anchorage House is across the bridge which crosses Aspen way.

We suggest assembling at 09.15 as the rally will be short and should be over a little after 10.00 when the tribunal starts.

Thank you so much for your support

In solidarity

The Reinstate  Charlotte Campaign