Trade Unionists at London Met under attack

stop-witchhunt-purple-web-300x208“Three members of staff at London Met’s Working Lives Research Institute (WLRI) have been suspended from work in an attack on human rights, trade unions and academic freedom. Professor Steve Jefferys, European employment relations academic, Director of London Met’s Faculty Advanced Institute for Research (FAIR) and head of WLRI, was suspended on Wednesday 20 February for ‘potential gross misconduct’. Five years previously, he had agreed that Jawad Botmeh should have the chance of going forward to be interviewed as a part-time casual administrative worker on a temporary three month contract in WLRI, when Jawad had a criminal record (he had served 13 years on a conspiracy charge).

Jawad Botmeh, after working for five years to the complete satisfaction of all staff and post-graduate students who worked with him, was overwhelmingly elected to the Board of Governors as one of two staff representatives. Two weeks later, on February 7 he was suspended.

Max Watson, a WLRI administrator who is also Chair of the Londonmet UNISON branch, was also suspended on February 7. Max had been recently singled out by the Vice-Chancellor in an all staff email because of UNISON’s opposition to the involvement of Capita in the university’s Business Process Review.

Steve, Jawad and Max have broken no university rules. They have all been entirely open and honest with the university. Professor Jefferys had the authority to make casual appointments. There were no procedures suggesting he should discriminate against former prisoners. Jawad had twice informed the university in writing of his earlier prison sentence and conviction and this evidence is on their files.

The WLRI was set up by Londonmet to undertake ‘academic, applied and socially-committed research and teaching emphasising equality and social justice into all aspects of working lives’. Now is the time for the university to be FAIR to the Institute and its staff.
These suspensions are an attack on the principles of staff rights and representation, on social justice and on academic freedom.

Petition:

We the undersigned protest at the suspensions of elected staff governor Jawad Botmeh, UNISON Chair, Max Watson and Professor Steve Jefferys, Director of WLRI and FAIR, and the harassment and investigations directed against other members of staff in WLRI.While it appears that the investigation relates to Jawad’s previous conviction, this was a matter of record, and had been declared to his managers and HR. I must therefore conclude that the current investigation is designed to intimidate staff and their representatives.

Steve, Jawad and Max have broken no university rules. They have all been entirely open and honest with the university. Professor Jefferys had the authority to make casual appointments. There were no procedures suggesting he should discriminate against former prisoners. Jawad had twice informed the university in writing of his earlier prison sentence and conviction and this evidence is on their files.

The WLRI was set up by Londonmet to undertake ‘academic, applied and socially-committed research and teaching emphasising equality and social justice into all aspects of working lives’. Now is the time for the university to be FAIR to the Institute and its staff.

In our view these suspensions are an attack on the principles of staff rights and representation, on social justice and on academic freedom, and we call on you to lift the suspensions immediately.”

York TUC supports workers under attack and demands the immediate reinstatement of these trade unionists. If you stand with trade unionists defending their rights please sign the petition here.

LOVE TRAINS, HATE HIGH FARES!

Farefail

Join #FareFail Day of Action, York Station, Thursday 14th February 7.30am until 9.30am.

On 2 January, rail fares soared above inflation for the tenth year running. They have increased almost three times faster than wages and are now 26% higher than they were before the recession.

Our #FareFail campaign took to the streets and stations of Britain and thousands of commuters got involved to express their view. The actions also received great friendly national and local media coverage, and a very positive reaction from commuters, who took up thousands of our campaign postcards.

The government response was to turn a blind eye to rail passenger anger. Transport minister Norman Baker told us fares were “not nearly as expensive” as presented! On 9 January the government defeated a parliamentary motion opposing the fares increase. Well, we don’t know about you, but we’ve had enough. If we want change we’ve got to keep the pressure up.

Kick off Valentine’s Day with our action for low fares

On 14 February, the international day of love, we’re going back to the travelling public with one simple message:

“Love Trains, Hate High Fares!”

And we need your help to do it.

And as it’s Valentine’s Day, why not bring a loved one with you too!

We can only stop the era of rip-off fares if we show those in charge how strongly we feel. Please get involved with the campaign today.

All we are asking is for an hour or two of your time to hand out leaflets at York railway station on February 14th between 0730 and 0930. You’re welcome to join us for the full two hours, or just a few minutes on your way to work, whatever suits you.

You can register to be involved here: http://www.togetherfortransport.org/iloverail/ or just turn up at the station and help us distribute our campaign cards to passengers.

For more details please contact us – Email: Sam Tarry at tarrys@tssa.org.uk or Call: 07850793971

National Libraries Day action resounding success!

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The action by York TUC, UNISON, York Student Socialists and York Stop the Cuts outside the town centre Explore this afternoon to coincide with National Libraries Day was a resounding success. Thank you to all those who turned up to lend a hand distributing leaflets and gathering signatures for our petition. Thanks to our helpers, and a very receptive public, we managed to gather almost all of the 1000 signatures needed to force a debate in the council chamber in just three hours.With volunteers taking petitions to their family, friends and workplaces we expect to reach our goal before the end of next week.

Anyone who has not yet signed the petition is urged to do so on the council’s website. You must register first, but all this takes is a name and an email!

York TUC is proud to have helped organise this action which has raised awareness of the threat to our libraries, funding for which has already been cut by £250,000 this year alone. It is hard to see how a cut of this magnitude can fail to result in a reduction in services, which is particularly detrimental at a time when visits to libraries are on the increase and every week more people visit their local library than go to the cinema.*

Today we talked to people of all ages, from toddlers to teenagers, parents to pensioners about what they valued most about their libraries and their concerns for the future of the service. We found a powerful desire on the part of York residents that their library be kept public and that hours and provision be increased, not reduced.

Though today has been a significant triumph, the fight is not yet over. York TUC looks forward to joining again with UNISON, York Stop The Cuts, Socialist Students and anyone else who wants to keep our libraries public. Petitions are being collected, names are being counted and the concerns of York residents will be heard by the council. Watch this space.

More pictures of the day available on our Facebook page.

*Source: Unisons libraries fact sheet #10