Monday, 10 December 2012

Linda Holden wins only contested SGE by-election

The results of the SGE by-election were announced today, and there is good news and bad news. The bad news (always start with the downer), is that out of 18 seats, only one was contested - which can never be a good sign for democracy. 

The good news is that the only contested seat was for the NW Higher Education female seat and Linda Holden took it. About time too! Linda is well known in the region as the Branch Secretary of Manchester Met branch and the HE sector nationally, as she is a vocal voice for a fighting, democratic UNISON, and a long-standing militant and a socialist. 

She assures me her manifesto was clearly to the left and anyone who's heard Linda speak will know she doesn't pull her punches. As I said before: it's good to have a mandate. Congrats!
A summary list of the newly elected members is available to download here: SGE byelection summary results (PDF)
A copy of the Scrutineer report is available to members and staff of UNISON on request. To request a copy, telephone UNISONdirect on 0845 355 0845. Lines are open 6am – midnight Monday – Friday and 9am – 4pm on Saturdays.

Save The Women's Library film

The Women's Library in Whitechapel is STILL threatened with closure, with its collection (the largest and most extensive collection of women's history in Europe) going to the LSE. Please join the campaign to keep it in its purpose-built home. More info:
This is yet another fantastically produced 'Reel News' film. If you can bung Reel News some money to help them continue to churn out films like this for our movement please do. See here: Please note that whilst UNISON members have safeguarded our remaining jobs that were initially at risk, and our local branch are now in negotiations with LSE regarding transfer of T&C's, the campaign to keep the library itself in Old Castle St in its beautiful purpose built home keeps going strong, thanks to some very dedicated campaigners, some of whom featured in this film. Not too late to get involved if you can:

Friday, 7 December 2012

Report from Unison NEC Dec 5th 2012 by Karen Reissmann

I'm thankful to Karen Reissmann for her comprehensive reports. I will try to add my own comments on the recent NEC and the issues touched on here myself:
Report from Unison NEC Dec 5th 2012

1) We were informed that the case against four Unison activists which last NEC voted (on a split vote)  to take to court of appeal despite huge cost has been dropped by Unison who appear to now have accepted that they acted illegally in banning them from office. The Presidential team have reversed the decision of the Unison disciplinary panel to ban Brian Debus and lifted it with immediate affect. Points were raised about how to avoid acting illegally again – increased training for panels, review of legal advice, immediate reinstatement of all those suspended from office.

2) Unison finances – balanced budget for this year expected despite falling membership income. Much tighter budgets, may affect our ability to ballot members in future.

3) Pensions – draft bill going through parliament. Unison looking to members of House of Lords to put amendments. Question asked about campaign against the  increased state retirement age but no reply submitted.

4) Pay – Noted successes of Living wage campaigns. Now in third year of pay freeze and members increased impoverished. Separate campaigns planned for local gov, NHS and schools on pay with argument put that we cannot coordinate across sectors but should coordinate with other unions within sectors. Some discussion about the impact of pension dispute sell-out (seen by some on NEC as quite successful) on both members and activists confidence and belief in the union's commitment to a serious battle. Aim is to start pay campaign using TUC to coordinate but in NHS this appears to be agreeing to cuts in national pay to protect national pay agreement and hoping those who wanted to do these cuts outside of agreement will be happy to stay in if national deal is cut in same way they wanted to do locally. So as long as we all take cuts its OK!

5) Campaigning. Celebrated turnout on Oct 20th 170,000 London, 30,00 Scotland and 15-20,000 in Belfast. Austerity not working but now likely to continue another 5 years, more jobs being cut all the time. Decision now to move to regional campaigning rather than national campaigning with meeting with regional secretaries next week to see what they feel they can do. Local campaigning “where we have the most influence”. Some discussion about isolated fights taking place in almost every branch now and need for nation co-ordination. TUC some comments from all that TUC needs to change to become campaigning body. Unison has asked them to prioritise poverty, tax evasion and PFI mark 2. Unison has provided some support to UK uncut with research on tax evasion and avoidance.

6) Recruitment . Figures show recruitment down. Less people joining, more people leaving with one huge exception of Oct and Nov 2011. Despite campaign of most serious fight I remember in Unison's history being best recruitment tool ever, this was not strategy adopted. NEC agreed to make recruitment our top priority. Big push - “Your union needs you”. Lots of discussion, some disagreement from some of us who felt prioritize should be defending members and the better we are at this, the better we recruit.

7) European week of action. Originally Oct demo as to be in their week but dates had been changed. London demo was biggest supported activity across Europe. Next week is in March and aim is to coordinate activity with them – maybe lobby or rally?.

8) Fighting the Far right. Excellent report explicitly naming BNP, NF, EDL, SDL, or WDL membership as incompatible with Unison membership. Any concerns over individuals to be referred to regions.

9) Access to meeting. One member of NEC cannot access the room used for the NEC meetings. Despite the fact there is an alternative room on the ground floor which is accessible, there has been a consistent refusal to use it for NEC (except on the occasion when there was a leak in the normal room). Instead the member has been offered a room on his own where he can access using a video link although he cannot see the NEC members (only the chair) and they cannot see him. Some of us consider this “disability apartheid” and a disgrace and have insisted on using this room with video link with him in solidarity. Many of us remain deeply unhappy with this arrangement which we view as clearly discriminatory.

Any questions on this report or if you want me to come to your meeting to explain further please get in touch

Save The Women's Library (Reel News film)

The women's library in Whitechapel is threatened with closure, with its collection (the largest and most extensive collection of women's history in Europe) going to the LSE. Please join the campaign to keep it in its purpose-built home. More info:

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Tell Patrick McGhee, VC of UEL, what you think about him sacking Unite rep Tony Britton

Prof Patrick McGhee

Prof Patrick McGhee


Vice-Chancellor of University of East London. Chair of Million+, Member of HEFCE TQSE and UUK Board. NTF. Own Views

London, UK ·


Many UNISON HE representatives will know Tony Britton, who has been a long standing member of the Unite Education National Committee and Unite New JNCHES negotiator. Tony was until last week senior Unite representative at University of East London.


Tony was suspended by the University last April for what in my view are spurious charges relating to his job. I believe the issues are more firmly connected to Tony's role as trade union representative and have been brought about to undermine Tony and Unite the union at University of East London.

I have written to the UEL the following email:

From: Max Watson
Date: 16 November 2012 11:06
Subject: Congratulations

Dear Patrick & Dusty,

I want to congratulate you: I usually only email about UNISON reps, as I'm not a member of Unite, and I'm extremely busy, but you have managed to move me into putting pen to paper in protest at the treatment of Tony Britton the Unite steward at UEL, who I understand you have sacked. Well done!

I will be circulating the information to the entire branch of London Met UNISON members - we thought things were bad here, but it will at least put things in perspective that at least the management here have not tried to victimize our union reps.

I will also be telling as many UNISON stewards up and down the country what you are doing at UEL. We in the labour movement consider this an attack on all of us, and we will not allow it to pass.

I have known Tony through pay negotiations at a national level. He is reasonable and polite but determined to do right for his members. I suppose those UCEA negotiators will hear about this too, in good time.

I note Tony has been with UEL for 35 years. If that is the way you treat long standing members of staff with unblemished record, I'd hate to see how you treat new staff with lateness issues. What a disgraceful way to behave.

It's not too late for you to reconsider, and find a way to immediately redress this injustice, and reinstate Tony as soon as is possible within your procedures. Please get back to me with confirmation that Tony Britton will be back at work and a date for his start, plus an apology for all the hurt and distress caused.




You might like to contact the Vice Chancellor Professor Patrick McGhee email him on or 'phone 02082237307 to complain about Tony's treatment.

Better still copy in the new Pro Vice Chancellor, Dusty Amroliwala [] or ring him direct on 020 8223 2286 or contact him on his mobile 07957 218950. Under Mr Amroliwala's new leadership trade union relations at University of East London have taken an entirely new direction. Downwards!


Tony had 35 years service with University of East London.


Unite is fighting Tony's case as hard as possible. Solicitors are engaged in preparing a case for a trade union discriminated dismissal. If proven such a dismissal would be one of the most heinous acts against working people.


Solidarity forever!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Senate House: 3 Cosas Campaign - Equal Rights for Outsourced workers!

Once again 'Reel News' have produced a fantastic film, really inspiring story of cleaners fighting for equal rights at work at Senate House, which can be used for all those in the labour movement, especially those in HE UNISON looking to run a Living Wage Campaign. Our policy says 'A Living Wage is not enough - it's just the beginning ... ' Check out the Senate House cleaners '3 cosas' campaign here: And check out Reel News here:
"The Unversity of London - one of the most prestigious unversities in the country, with a liberal reputation. Yet it doesn't even give its outsourced workers basic human rights. Having won the London Living wage in a long struggle, the UNISON outsourced workers are now demanding a pension, sick pay and more holidays, just like any other worker at the university. Watch this film to hear from the outsourced workers themselves and see what you can do to support them - and come to the protest at Senate House on November 28. Additional footage: Andrea Castillo, UCL Anthropology student"

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

London Met – how we beat the privatisation sharks

London Met – how we beat the privatisation sharks

"Our members can once again hold our heads high going into the next round" of battles against privatisation and job cuts in higher education, writes a leading activist in 10-month campaign against Coalition-backed plans to outsource hundreds of staff jobs.

by - 26th October 2012, 8.15 GMT

Since January 2012, London Met UNISON have been engaged in an ongoing fight against wide-scale privatisation proposals.

(Image courtesy of London Met UNISON branch)

We are delighted to declare we have won our battle – for now – and whilst we recognise the ongoing war continues, we think it is worth reflecting on how we won our most recent battle.

Last week, the university finally caved in and admitted what we in UNISON had been insisting on for some time: their 'Shared Services' proposals were not only deeply unpopular and unnecessary but ultimately they were completely unworkable.

Our campaign has been vindicated: rather than negotiate, we agreed to fight the proposals outright, which severely delayed and disrupted their plans until it was too late to implement them.

It proved to be the right course of action.

It shows that you can fight off privatisation.

Others in similar battles – notably Barnet UNISON, from whom we took our lead and much inspiration – should feel emboldened by our success.

The university conceded on 'admitted body status' to the LGPS [Local Government Pension Scheme], for example, only after a great deal of pressure from our campaign and only after we announced our intention to ballot our members for industrial action over their proposals.

They knew full well we would win a resounding "yes" vote and could take potentially very disruptive action short of a strike, as well as smart strike action, over their plans to change the identity of our employer.

This is backed up by our recent overwhelming landslide victory when UNISON stood a candidate for election to the Board of Governors this month on a strong anti-Shared Services platform.

Our campaign was member-led, from the bottom up, and we used everything we could in a union organiser's toolbox and engaged the imagination and creativity of our members.

Following a mass meeting to launch our campaign, we organised a flash-mob photo-shoot covering up the university's 'Proud to be' marketing slogans and replaced with UNISON placards that read 'Not allowed to be London Met' (pictured, below).

Then we launched an email campaign, encouraging our members to state clearly they refused to be transferred over to a new company – and we met our target of over 100 members emailing the Vice Chancellor Malcolm Gillies.

We knew it was having an effect because eventually the university tried to block the emails coming through from our website!

Local MP Jeremy Corbyn signed up to our campaign and wore one of our specially designed 'Shark Services' tee shirt to show support.

Hundreds of 'Shark cards' were given out to all members of staff, informing them of their rights, advising them remain silent and give 'no comment' if approached by one of the private companies on the shortlist.

A petition also gained widespread support from staff and students alike.

We organised a 'virtual lobby' of the governing body and over 50 staff were photographed with a 'NO TO SHARK SERVICES' message and an electronic slideshow was sent by email directly to all the governors on their awayday, re-enforcing our position that our members refused to accept their plans.

When the private companies did come on site to meet management, we got wind of it and they were greeted with our activists, leafleting them on the way in. We ensured posters were up around the meeting rooms they were using, calling for "BT – Go Home!" and "CrAPITA – not welcome here!"

BT Global did indeed 'go home', only last month, but management kept this information from us as they knew we'd have a field day (three down, two to go!).

We developed a clear media strategy which included ensuring our side of the story was published whenever the Vice Chancellor was in the news extolling the virtues of his pet project, so called 'Shared Servcies', and consistently denying it was in fact simply privatisation.

We managed to get our version of events (and our intention to resist their proposals) published in the local papers, the Guardian, Times Higher Education and The Independent. Key to this was talking directly to David Hencke of Exaro News, as well as our own trade union networks such as UnionNews.

In addition to this organising, member-led campaigning approach, we used the expertise of our own consultants, the Association of Public Service Excellent (APSE), and we are indebted to their support, which was partly funded by the national union's fighting fund.

UNISON recognised that this was a nationally significant dispute, so we are very happy to report back that we have won not only for our own members but for all those in higher education facing the threat of 'Shared Services' and privatisation.

The local UCU and students' union branches also supported our campaign although their members were not directly affected by the proposed changes, and we developed some key allies among staff who were not unionised as well, but we recognised our key strength was first and foremost the involvement of our own members.

As well as APSE, we also gained the helpful support of researchers in London Met's Working Lives Research Institute, and we hosted a seminar by Prof Steve Jefferys and put a film of his presentation on outsourcing on our Youtube channel.

Our most recent lobby of the governing body was supported by London Higher UNISON activists, and we developed national policy to launch a campaign against 'Shared Services' and outsourcing in London and beyond.

When the UK Border Agency overseas student fiasco hit us in July-August we took the opportunity to link the issue to outsourcing and insisted on the Governors dropping their 'Shared Services' proposals in order for us to work together on that issue and also to get our house in order.

When almost 200 members packed an emergency joint union meeting to pass such a motion and calling on management to allow us time off to attend a protest outside the Home Office and if they did not we would walk out anyway, management conceded this point within 24 hours.

It has been acknowledged that our political campaign was key in winning an amnesty for students who were facing deportation by among others, Dianne Abbott, MP.  Thanks to this effective amnesty we now have the breathing space to work on getting our house back in order and continue to fight to keep our services in house.

Sustaining such an intense campaign during these last ten months at the same time as resisting job cuts, campaigning against a pay freeze, and of course maintaining normal branch activities such as casework and training has been an enormous drain on our activists. We have lost members who have left the university, and activists too as a result of the way things were looking.

However, we insisted all along that we can win this one and we threw everything we could into it, which paid off.

We won new members, new activists and raised our already highly visible profile as a force to be reckoned with.

Many people refused to believe we could win, saw the proposals as a done deal and questioned why we should even bother challenging them.

We have showed how wrong they were.

Our members recognise that we continue to face an uphill struggle, but we are stronger and better prepared for those battles ahead, knowing that – against all the odds – we defeated the pet project of our government-backed Vice Chancellor.

Our members can once again hold our heads high going into the next round.

I would like to thank everyone involved for all the support they have shown. From the members who took part, the journalists and experts who played their role, the officials and the activists who took time away from their our branches to support our fight – the difference this made cannot be overestimated and it will not be forgotten.

Solidarity forever!

Chair of the UNISON branch at London Metropolitan University, Max Watson, writes in a personal capacity.

Monday, 24 September 2012

We can do it too!

"Creating a feminist reality doesn't just mean women are empowered to "do it all", it also requires that men step up and share some of the real work!"
I've got the pleasure of having some additional time off work for paternity leave at the moment, and won't be back at work full time again until 15th October.

So if you're contacting me to invite me to speak at a branch meeting, demo or rally about the ballot for strike action for fair pay - or generally as an elected UNISON NEC member to help build the TUC demo on 20th - then thanks for thinking of me but I really am tied up and look at bit like this dude on the left right now...

Additional paternity leave is a right we fought for and won, and eventually was quietly introduced last year (covering babies born after 3rd April 2011) so that women can share their parenting leave with men for the first 12 months of a child's life. I'm lucky in that regards, in terms of timing.

Has your workplace updated their policies in line with this new law? UNISON has some helpful guidance from their Bargaining Support Group here:

Maternity Support Leave / Paternity Leave - Unison

If you wanted to get hold of me as the Chair of London Met Uni UNISON Branch then go here for the contact details of the branch Vice-Chair, Eddie Rowley, who is doing an amazing job deputising for me in the interim (during extremely difficult times - so be nice!).

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Demonstrate for The Women’s Library - 22nd Sept

Demonstrate for The Women's Library - 22nd Sept

Download flier Save TWL demo (click on image for PDF)
The Save TWL campaign has called for a demonstration to Save The Women's Library

Save The Women's Library
22nd September
Old Castle Street
E1 7NT
(nearest tube Aldgate East)
We demand:
  1. The library stays in its historic home
  2. The collections stay intact and accessible to all
  3. The library retains its expert sta ff
Over 12,000 people have signed the petition to Save The Women's Library and  so now we are presenting this petition on the Saturday before the Governors of London Met decide its future, and we are calling on the Government to intervene if the threat to close TWL remains real…

FB: save the womens library || Twitter: @saveTWL

Join the Facebook event

Monday, 10 September 2012

Friday 14th Sept: national Day of action - Amnesty for London Met Students!

When? 1pm on Friday the 14th September.
Where? Where you are right now! There's plenty of ways to get involved.
Called by: London Met UCU and London Met UNISON.

On Friday, the London Met UCU and UNISON are asking everyone to do something locally. This could be something really small like signing a petition or big like attending a small protest.

This could be:
1) Signing the official NUS Petition. Find it here and get your students' union, clubs, societies, lecturers, officers, friends and family to add their name too:

2) Sending a letter to your MP too here - it only takes 1-2 minutes!

And ask them to sign EDM 437:

3) Attending your MP surgery and meeting with your MP to raise concerns.

4) Organising an open meeting/forum to discuss international student issues.

5) Attending any local gatherings/protests.

6) Come to our rally / open discussion the night before at London Met:

Updates of a list of action are on this facebook event:






BATH SU: Has written an open letter to our local MP and published a brief statement here:

BIRKBECK SU: "#bbksucouncil discusses the London Met situation and sends #solidarity to the thousands of international students affected" (from the SU homepage).

BIRMINGHAM CITY STUDENTS' UNION: Have issued a statement on their website.

BOURNEMOUTH STUDENTS' UNION: Spread the NUS petition to students and have encouraged students to write to their MPs.

CARDIFF STUDENTS' UNION: Have lobbied their local MP on this issue.

CITY SU: promoted the NUS petition to their student body and wrote to their local MP.

GOLDSMITHS SU: released a statement of condemnation jointly with UCU (, and promoted the petition.

HULL STUDENTS' UNION: Have published a blog on their website:

KCLSU: released a statement of condemnation ( of UKBA's decision on London Met

LIVERPOOL HOPE STUDENTS' UNION: Have issued a statement and have spread the petition amongst students.

LIVERPOOL GUILD OF STUDENTS: Have published the petition on their website, written to MPs and published a statement on their website:

LSESU: released a statement of condemnation (, publicized petition and demo to members and lobbied local MP

LONDON FILM SCHOOL: Have issued a message of support:

MIDDLESEX STUDENTS' UNION: Have written to MPS, embassies and issued a statement on their website:

MIDKENT COLLEGE STUDENTS' UNION: Have published a statement of support:

ROEHAMPTON SU: have lobbied their local MP on the issue

ROYAL HOLLOWAY SU: released a statement on their website (, publicized petition to students and lobbied local MP.

SHEFFIELD STUDENTS' UNION: Have published a joint statement on their website with their Vice-Chancellor:

SOAS SU: sent out an all students' email publicizing NUS petition, demo and write to your MP campaign. Lobbied the local MP to sign EDM and wrote to the School's director to demand that he releases a statement of condemnation. They also brought 20 SOAS students to the demo last Wednesday.


SUSSEX SU: lobbied the VC and released a public statement (with great pictures!)

PORTSMOUTH SU: lobbied the VC and the local MP.

OXFORD STUDENTS' UNION: Have published a statement on London Met that was picked up by it's local papers:

UNIVERSITY OF THE ARTS LONDON SU: (SUARTS) endorsed and publicized a statement of condemnation of UKBA's revocation of London Met's HTS license.

UCASU: Have issued a statement on their website with their VC:

UCLU: tweeted about it, publicized petition and demo to their students

ULU: initiated a statement of condemnation signed by over 40 officers from London based institutions; publicized petition, lobbied local MP and publicized demo.

WARWICK STUDENTS' UNION: Sent an all member email to students encouraging them to sign the NUS petition:

YORK STUDENTS' UNION: Have emailed their MPs, circulated the petitions, contacted embassies and have issued a joint statement with their University on their website:

YSJ STUDENTS' UNION: Have issued a message on their website:


ABEP (Association of Brazilian Postgraduates and Researchers): Have written to Damian Green and the Brazilian Embeassy.

BRAZILIAN WORKER'S PARTY - (London Branch) Have published an open letter:

JEREMY CORBYN MP: Has been actively campaigning on this issue.

THE GREEN PARTY: Has released a statement.

PCS UNION: Have issued a message of support on their website:

UKCISA: Have issued a statement on their website:

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Amnesty Now! Save London Met Uni!

UNISON and UCU members vote to support our international students 100%
When? 1pm on Weds 5th September

Where? Outside the Home Office on Marsham Street.

Called by: London Met UCU and London Met UNISON.

Supported by: National Union of Students, London Met SU, NUS Black Students' Campaign, Students Association of Nigerians in Diaspora (SAND), National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, University of London Union, Education Activist Network, Student Broad Left, SOAS SU, Next Generation Labour, University of Leicester Students' Union.

To add your organisation to the list - email NUS Black Students' Officer

Sign the Petition:

Amnesty for international students at London Metropolitan University

Early day motion 437

Send a letter to your MP too and ask them to sign EDM 437

London Met SU are asking students to bring suitcase/bags so that we can use them build a massive pile in front of the Home Office and we are asking everyone to bring their national flags!

Act now to defend international students from a vicious Tory attack!

The Tory government's assault on international students has stepped up a gear this week, with moves to deport more than 2,600 students currently studying at London Met University.

London Met University's licence to teach and recruit students from outside the EU has been revoked, meaning that over 2,600 international students will soon have only 60 days to find a place at another university or be forced to leave the country without completing their studies.

With their future on the line, thousands of pounds of tuition fees spent and serious doubts over whether they will be able to finish their degrees it is no surprise that international students at London Met are fearful.

Lecturers at London Met have called for a lobby/protest outside of the Home Office on Wednesday 5 September at 1pm demanding that the 2,600 international students are allowed to complete their studies. Please spread the word.

UNISON and UCU have a list of demands on the Governors

Early day motion 437

That this House calls on the Home Secretary to reverse the decision of the UK Border Agency to suspend London Metropolitan University's right to recruit overseas students; believes it is grossly unfair on those existing overseas students who attend university and will now be forced to move elsewhere or face removal from the UK; further calls on the Home Office and the university to work together to resolve any administrative issues and not threaten the future of the university; and also believes that this decision has very damaging and serious consequences for every university and will further deter overseas students from choosing to study in the UK.

You can ask your MP to sign EDM 437 via:

Friday, 31 August 2012

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Stop the Squeeze! The real cost of Higher Education

"Stop the Squeeze! The real cost of Higher Education. A public meeting organised by UNISON, UCU and Unite branches"
Lunch provided. ULU, Malet Street.
12th September, 13.00 – 14.00, Malet Suite, third floor.
Did you know…
- Women working in HE earn on average 15% less than men?
- HE staff have received a real terms pay cut of over 10% in 3 years?
- Courses are being cut and students will be paying more for less?
- Many staff are paid less than the London Living Wage?
- Pay for vice-chancellors continues to soar – by up 80% last year?
Come and find out what we can do, as we prepare for a ballot for industrial action in October.
Students and staff welcome.
Poster attached here: unionposter[1]

ISM’s response to the Rachel Corrie trial verdict

The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is deeply concerned by the verdict of Judge Oded Gershon that absolved Israel's military and state of the 2003 murder of American ISM activist Rachel Corrie. Rachel was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer while protesting the demolition of a Palestinian home in the Gaza Strip.

Despite the American administration stating that the Israeli military investigation had not been "thorough, credible and transparent" and the Israeli government withholding key video and audio evidence, Judge Gershon found no fault in the investigation or in the conclusion that the military and state were not responsible for Rachel's death. Judge Gershon ruled  that Rachel was to blame for her own murder and classifies her non-violent attempt to prevent war crimes as proof that Rachel was not a "thinking person".

By disregarding international law and granting Israeli war criminals impunity Judge Gershon's verdict exemplifies the fact that Israel's legal system cannot be trusted to administer justice according to international standards.The ISM calls on the international community to hold Israel accountable by supporting the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) and continuing to join the Palestinian struggle in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Describing the situation in Gaza 2 days before she was killed, Rachel said, "I'm witnessing the systematic destruction of a people's ability to survive. It's horrifying."  Rachel's analysis holds true today, confirmed by the United Nations a day before this ruling, which reported that Gaza would not be "liveable" by 2020 barring urgent action.

The verdict is a green light for Israeli soldiers to use lethal force against human rights defenders and puts Palestinian and International human rights defenders in mortal danger.

This will not deter us. As long as our Palestinian sisters and brothers want our presence, the ISM will continue to find ways to break Israel's siege, and stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people. As Rachel's mother Cindy put it, "There were children behind the walls of the home Rachel was trying to protect...We should have all been there".

Judge Gershon's verdict is a travesty of justice but it is not exceptional.  As a rule the Israeli legal system provides Israeli soldiers impunity to commit murder. The only Israeli soldier convicted of manslaughter since the outbreak of the second Intifada in 2000 was Taysir Hayb, a Bedouin citizen of Israel for shooting British ISM volunteer Tom Hurndall in the back of the head with a sniper rifle as Tom was carrying a child to safety. At least 6,444 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli occupation forces in this period, with no justice for them or their families.            



Monday, 20 August 2012

UNISON members are behind our campaign to stop their neoliberal experiment

London Metropolitan University needs further industrial action like we need a hole in the head, but current management give us no choice with their plans to privatise large swaths of back-office functions (Report, 15 August). Since the G4S Olympics fiasco, does anybody still believe the private sector delivers improved services or savings? London Met's vice-chancellor, Malcolm Gillies, and his friend in government, David Willetts, certainly do, and so does Willetts' close adviser Jonathan Woodhead, who since the general election has worked for London Met. But no one outside the upper echelons of power at London Met Uni does, and certainly not Unison members, who are fully behind our campaign to stop their neoliberal experiment on our already troubled university. An industrial action ballot is imminent if the university goes ahead to sign a contract with Capita, Wipro or BT Global – all of whom have a horrendous record in messing up public services elsewhere and have a tendency to send jobs overseas to save money.

Catherine Maguire, Max Watson London Met Unison, Sara Wright, Naomi Bain, Molly Cooper, Sandy Nicoll Unison Higher Education, London

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

We'll do everything within our means to stop this nightmare

Max Watson, chairman of the London Met branch of Unison, the trade union representing support staff at the university, warned of industrial unrest. He said: "Our current management appears to be hell bent on deeply damaging our university's reputation and risk permanently scarring already bad industrial relations with the ideologically-driven privatisation of London Met.

"They aim to gamble millions of public-sector funds on the free market as if they have learnt nothing from the most recent G4S Olympics security fiasco.

"Unison members have made it clear that they are appalled by these proposals, which have no support beyond the vice-chancellor's office. We shall never agree to the wide-scale privatisation of our university and we shall do everything within our means to stop this nightmare becoming reality."

Thursday, 9 August 2012

From Camden to Senate House - we can and must resist

Today I went to a very well attended meeting at Senate House to discuss our national ballot for industrial action to break the pay freeze. I referred to an accessible and comprehensive report on-line which gives a flavour of the pain our members are suffering under the current government.

I also referred to the inspired leadership and strategy shown by the determined action of the Camden parking enforcement officers UNISON strike, who are out today (see photo from rally I had the honour to visit o the way to Senate House), tomorrow and Saturday in a bitter struggle for a living wage. Please send messages of support and cheques for as much as your branch can possibly afford, to Camden UNISON Branch.

Thanks for organising, and solidarity greetings to Senate House Branch Sec, Josephine Grahl and to George Binette, Branch Sec at Camden for their tireless efforts. We need more like them in our movement, we really do.

You got a lotta nerve ...

You got a lotta nerve
To say you are my friend
When I was down
You just stood there grinning

You got a lotta nerve
To say you got a helping hand to lend
You just want to be on
The side that's winning

You say I let you down
You know it's not like that
If you're so hurt
Why then don't you show it

You say you lost your faith
But that's not where it's at
You had no faith to lose
And you know it

I know the reason
That you talk behind my back
I used to be among the crowd
You're in with

Do you take me for such a fool
To think I'd make contact
With the one who tries to hide
What he don't know to begin with

You see me on the street
You always act surprised
You say, "How are you?" "Good luck"
But you don't mean it

When you know as well as me
You'd rather see me paralyzed
Why don't you just come out once
And scream it

No, I do not feel that good
When I see the heartbreaks you embrace
If I was a master thief
Perhaps I'd rob them

And now I know you're dissatisfied
With your position and your place
Don't you understand
It's not my problem

I wish that for just one time
You could stand inside my shoes
And just for that one moment
I could be you

Yes, I wish that for just one time
You could stand inside my shoes
You'd know what a drag it is
To see you

Bob Dylan, 1965

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

We're All In It Together Album Launch

Join me in pledging to march for A Future That Works on October 20

Join me in pledging to march for A Future That Works on October 20
Join me in pledging to march for A Future That Works on October 20


I pledge to march with the TUC in London on 20 October I can't be at the march in person, but want to help show my support by joining the fight online Please select one of the above This march is just one step in a long campaign to get our government to change course from their dangerous and damaging programme of cuts and austerity. If you choose to receive further contacts from us, we'll keep you updated by email on logistical information about the march, and on other online campaign action fro...


Friday, 3 August 2012

Don't be put off - vote to reject!

Don't be put off by the alarmist language or bullied by the other larger service groups who are recommending to accept. We've already won huge concessions - we are repeatedly told so after all, I've been told twice they're phenomenal(!) concessions - and that was after just one day strike action ... plus the UCU are still in dispute so in our sector we're in a strong position.

Anyway, if you do accept then don't come crying to me when you're still working aged 68 and looking forward to a devalued pension!