Friday, 1 March 2013

Message of support to London Met comrades

In Solidarity

London Metropolitan University recently suspended Max Watson (UNISON NEC member for Higher Education, and Chair of London Met branch) and Jawad Botmeh (UNISON member at London Met, and elected staff governor), along with Professor Steve Jefferys.

The Branch has sent this message of support  to Max, Jawad, Steve and London Met union activists:


Middlesex University UNISON Branch are outraged at the suspension by London Met University of Branch Chair Max Watson and his colleague Jawad Botmeh. 

We see this as a direct attack by London Met management on UNISON activists and vehemently oppose any such attempts to undermine the effectiveness of their Branch.

Middlesex University Branch send our comrades at London Met our full support and solidarity.

In Solidarity
Middlesex University UNISON Branch 

The suspensions relate to alleged breaches of the university's appointment procedure. Both Max and Jawad strongly refute the allegations, and UNISON is committed to providing full support and representation to them both.

UNISON President Chris Tansley, the NEC, and Denise Ward, the Chair of UNISON's Higher Education service group executive (on behalf of the SGE), have all sent messages of full support to Max and Jawad.

The Steve Jawad Max Campaign has set up an online petition to gather support. Members and activists are encouraged to sign the petition.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Don't wait untill it's too late

Monday 4th of February will see the start of Middlesex University's UNISON Branch recruitment campaign "Don't wait until it's too late" to encourage staff to become members of the union, so we can organise to defend members against threats to their jobs and Higher Education.

Too often staff only join the union when they face difficulties or threats to their employment. Often it is too late for the union to effectively help in these situations and the options available have become limited.

The more members the union has the more effectively we can organise to resist threats to members jobs. Many local problems can be resolved before they become major issues, UNISON's ability to do this is based on the collective strength of our membership.

Only through building and strengthening our collective voice within the University will we be able to defend staff and services.

By joining the UNISON the Branch can more effectively organise and raise arguments over offshoring, staff workloads, terms and conditions and job losses with the University and campaign on these issues. Members can be invoved by actively looking to recruit non-unionised colleagues. If you're not already a member read about the Branch in our newsletter Branchlines, don't be on the outside looking in : Join UNISON and add your voice to ours.

The Don't wait until it's too late poster is available here, and the recruitment flyer is available here. Print them out and put them to good use. 

Membership forms are available here and can be returned to the UNISON office WG47 Williams Building or emailed to 

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Monday, 3 December 2012

Marching for Change : Helen Hayward

On Sat 20th October, I met members of the Middlesex University UNISON Branch outside the Savoy on the strand, ready to march on the TUC mass demonstration in London against the government austerity agenda which is clearly not working. 

There were workers from Barnet council who exchanged banter with us. I was told how the majority of Barnet services are now being privitised and outsourced and how they are battling against the further erosion of public services. Its appalling what is happening in the name of ‘savings and budget cuts’ when anybody can see that it is the bankers and the rich who are getting off scot free. 

As we formed up on the embankment in a surreal moment Barry White’s music was booming out from the PSU.  There were thousands of people from all over the country and a carnival atmosphere. Lots of marchers from the North, who were down to register a protest, teachers, civil servants, cleaners and policemen. Yes the police, they were handing out leaflets being friendly and approachable, sympathetic to the march.

The march started at mid-day and slowly meandered past Embankment station and the Houses of Parliament. There was a cacophony of noise with marchers blowing whistles, banging drums and various sound systems blaring out the Clash. I looked behind me and noted I was in august company: Jonathan Millar and his family were marching, I also spotted Angela Eagle, Labour MP in the shadow cabinet. I had a laugh seeing if I could spot any agent provocateurs, they tend to wear a clich├ęd costume of black balaclava with a brutish expression, but on this March there weren’t any.

We got to Hyde Park, had a quick perusal round the Socialist pop-up bookshop, and then made our way to the middle of the park in front of giant screens. The speeches started from firebrands such as Bob Crow, general secretary of the Transport workers. He made some hilarious points. 

All this in a week for the Tories that saw George Osbourne the Tory Chancellor upgrading himself to a first class carriage without having purchased the right ticket. Also Andrew Mitchell who was stopped by Downing street police from going through an entrance on his bike and called them ‘Plebs’, thus revealing his opinion of people trying to do their job.

Interestingly both banana skins were to do with class, how can Eton educated MPs have any idea of the suffering and misery their out of touch policies are inflicting.

Ed Milliband spoke of further austerity measures if Labour got into power, which did not go down well with people at all. Dave Prentis UNISON General Secretary spoke of the need to invest in good public services to boost the economy and strengthen communities.

It started to rain, which was our cue to leave before everyone had the same idea. Clutching the huge UNISON banner I headed off to the West End, and home weary but satisfied I had made played my part in delivering a message to the coalition government that for hundreds of thousands of working people : Austerity is Failing

Helen Hayward


Thursday, 29 November 2012

Why I Joined UNISON : Sam Cerovich

This summer I was offered a position at Middlesex University as an International Student Liasion Administrator, my first job. The stressful application and interview process were over and I looked forward to contributing to the University and learning new skills.

I found myself having joined a workplace that was undergoing a lot of restructuring and I had a lot of questions. 

Being my first job I wanted to speak to someone about what I should expect with these changes and if the uneasiness I was feeling was normal.

In my office, UNISON members are the majority. They spoke positively about their experience as being part of UNISON and offered me advice about the lingering questions that I had. Being a UNISON member, and training to be a steward, is not just about having strength in numbers. It allows me to be there for my co-workers and vice versa. Having joined UNISON I am now a part of a group that I feel comfortable talking about employment and changes in the workplace.

I heard that UNISON is Britain’s largest trade union. At first this did not resonate with me until I heard from colleagues who had lost members from their team and feel over worked and under valued. UNISON has a seat at the negotiation table to help its members in cases such as this.

Coming into the role of UNISON steward I am eager to learn as much as possible. A big part of why I joined UNISON was the amount of training UNISON offers its reps and its members through the Life Long Learning (Maggie Walkowska)  and Education Officer (Helen Hayward). 

In November I begin my steward training so that I can help others get the most out of their UNISON membership.

Samantha Cerovich
UNISON Steward 

To Be in Redeployment Pool : Helen Hayward

In May the University announced that it would be shifting resources away from Support Staff towards academics. As a result of the restructuring my permanent IT Advisor post in LR did not appear in the new structure, and on the 8th May 2012 I was given notice, along with others that I was at risk of redundancy.

I was put in the redeployment pool. In the weeks that followed I began the stressful and anxious process of applying for jobs and going for interviews. Many other staff were in the same position and as the weeks went on I was unsuccessful in securing a position and stayed on the at risk list and in the redeployment pool. I became increasingly demoralised and was left feeling like a spare part.

Whilst at Middlesex I have built up ten years of skills and experience in the area of IT that I felt confident these would be transferable to other areas. Despite feeling increasingly demoralised many colleagues and UNISON members urged me to hang on in there, to keep applying and not to give up. The University sent me my voluntary redundancy figures and increasingly I felt as if I was being edged out of employment and my options were limited.

I was anxious and worried as my personal circumstances meant I couldn’t be without work or consider the VR as a practical alternative. I was determined to stay in employment. As a UNISON member I went to see Trevor Alexander, the UNISON Branch Secretary on several occasions. He offered advice and support, and recommended I apply for any position I was eligible for, even temporary fixed term contract jobs as a ‘bridging’ contract. I really did not want to do this as I wanted a permanent post, but beggars can’t be choosers.

During this period I had a pre booked holiday in June - slap bang in the middle of the redeployment interview! I was placed in the slightly ridiculous situation of being interviewed for positions whilst on holiday in Cyprus on Skype. Which involved slow internet connections, internet crashes and the cost, along with more anxiety and stress. With hindsight it was probably not the best decision to have scheduled 3 interviews whilst on holiday, but I wanted to demonstrate to the University that I was determined to gain a job and work. As you can imagine it wasn’t my best holiday!

I applied for a temporary job at Archway even though the campus is closing next July (2013). I was successful, and I am now at the Library, learning new skills and gradually regaining my confidence and self esteem. I have made lots of friends at Archway and everyone is supportive, helpful and very pleasant. I have been encouraged by the UNISON Branch Secretary to expect that suitable alternative work is likely to emerge over the coming months.

I am particularly thankful for the support I received from the UNISON Branch - I was pointed in the right direction for help and given support and advice. I feel that UNISON’s negotiations with the University helped me immeasurably in securing alternative work at the University. It should be noted that not a single Union member who wanted to remain with the University was made compulsorily redundant this year, and that is, without question, a massive achievement.

I would urge all UNISON members to tell non-union colleagues that with the economic situation as it is, and with further attacks on our jobs and Higher Education, they cannot afford to bury their heads in the sand, the support UNISON can provide individually and collectively is invaluable.

Being in UNISON cannot guarantee you a job, but it can provide support and expert advice when you most need it. Ultimately you have to help yourself but it is good to know what to do, when you feel like a rabbit caught in the headlights.

The experience has shown me the value of having UNISON representing and advising its members and negotiating on our behalf  

let’s not forget that “Together We Are Stronger”

Helen Hayward October 2012

Edited by MDXBranchlines : 2012