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!"