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.