Defend Jawad, Max and Steve: Ongoing suspensions of trades unionists at London Met

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Just a brief post to highlight what is happening currently at London Met University. On the 7th Feb the UNISON branch chair, Max Watson, and the union-supported and newly-elected staff governor, Jawad Botmeh, were suspended from their jobs. This appears to centre around Jawad Botmeh having a criminal conviction.

The criminal conviction was declared fully at the time of his appointment. It has been highlighted that no policy relating to the employment of people with convictions was made to those appointing to him by HR at the time of his employment, and HR have also had access to records showing this conviction for the five years since he was employed. Jawad is viewed as a hard working colleague by those who work with him. He had contested the conviction, and Amnesty International , UNISON’s National Delegate Conference and MPs (including Jeremy Corbyn) who signed an early-day motion all take the position that he is innocent.

The suspensions have happened against a background of threatened derecognition of UNISON by the VC. Max Watson describes the disciplinary process as follows:

‘On Thursday last week a “Kangaroo court” summoned me to a hearing that lasted 30 minutes. I had no time to prepare and I had no indication what it was concerning’.

 ’This is not about me or Jawad, in the end. It is about our right, as workers, to organise in the workplace and to elect our own reps. It’s about justice and solidarity for those who put their head above the parapet. It’s about every one of us standing should to shoulder in defence of our jobs and in defence of our right to organise.’

A third trades unionist, Steve Jeffreys, who oversaw Jawad’s appointment, has now been suspended. He makes the following statement:

 

“Dear Trade Union Friends,
I’m writing to let you know that I was suspended on Wednesday by Londonmet after a 45 minute investigation into the WLRI because I appointed a former prisoner who had served 13 years imprisonment to a part-time, casual three month maternity cover job in our social justice Institute.
Did I know that his conviction in 1996 was for conspiracy to blow up the Israeli embassy? Yes. I also knew that he had been refused parole for 6 years because he maintained his innocence, and that Paul Foot and Robert Fisk had campaigned for him. And I saw his CV which included his having completed an OU degree in sociology and an MA in Peace and Reconciliation (with merit), as well has having been prisoners’ rep on equality issues.
But actually, although this all made him an ideal person to work with us, I felt there was also a basic human rights issues involved. Do we give people a second chance?”

 

This is another worrying case of what appears to be abuse of disciplinary procedure to target known activists within an educational institution, and I would encourage people to do everything they can to support London Met Unison and UCU branches and the suspended three. You can get to the campaign page here:

http://www.londonmetunison.org.uk/campaigns/suspension-of-jawad-botmeh-and-max-watson-stop-the-witch-hunt/

and the campaign blog here: http://goo.gl/FFyiI

You can also sign a petition here: http://goo.gl/XceXs

London Met UNISON ask that supporters can help in the following way:

  • Attend the Lobbies (watch this space for news and updates)
  • Send the Vice Chancellor and HR an email using our template
  • Join the Facebook group
  • Submit the model motion to union branches to Defend Jawad and Max (amend to add Steve Jefferys)
  • Send messages of support and solidarity to unison@londonmet.ac.uk : encourage friends, colleagues in other institutions and your community to do the same
  • Donations to support our campaigning – cheques to ‘UNISON London Metropolitan University’ gratefully received,
    Chris Manna, UNISON Treasurer, Room TM 189, London Metropolitan University, 166-220, Holloway rd. N7 8DB
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