A call for solidarity with London Met UCU from victimised rep Mark Campbell

21 September 2016

Given the constant attacks on staff at London Met, and now the sacking of its leading branch officers – noting they sacked Max Watson, the Unison Secretary this time last year, it’s absolutely amazing our members continue to fightback and resist the onslaught. This, as far as I can tell, is the 14th S188 since 2008/9. We are now on the 15th ‘Voluntary’ Redundancy Scheme. Our workforce has been more than decimated (that’s ‘only’ 1 in 10, we’ve lost around 60% of staff!), and casualisation through zero-hour contracts, and institutional bullying, has been used as a battering ram against us. We have one of the highest incidence of workplace stress in the sector.

Before our recent successful strike ballot, in line with our procedures, we held large quorate branch meetings that unanimously passed motions calling for strike action in induction week (next week), and for the commencement of Greylisting (international academic censure and boycott) at the beginning of teaching (early Oct). We then conducted an online consultative ballot (over August) and got a 76% vote to ballot on strike action, and even more importantly, and impressively, an 86% vote to immediately call on UCU HQ to move to Greylisting unless management start to meet our just demands.

The truth is though our members are exhausted and now need the national union to step in and visibly, and above all else, very publicly, take action on their behalf. That’s what the call to Greylisting is all about. They need the world to know of the appalling conditions they are under and the recklessness of the current management with their job cuts and attacks on the union via the victimisation and sacking of their reps. Our members know such external support will put strong pressure on the university’s governors to intervene and finally get Lmet management back to the negotiation table and will help ensure the reinstatement of their reps.

However, as you know, it’s stated that in order to action the Greylisting sanction the branch needs to be actively taking industrial action – hence the strike ballot, and now its move to action strike action on Thursday 29th September.

We, the national union, need to ask ourselves a simple question. Will we stand back and watch a significant section of our union at a symbolically important HE institution go to the wall because their energy to fight on alone has been weakened because of the years of abuse they have suffered or will we collectively stand up for them and put a collective wall of solidarity around them?

Mark Campbell, (ex) London Met UCU (Chair), London Region UCU (Higher Education Chair)

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