Drop the charges against Steve and Max
Join the Lobby
Wednesday April 17 1-2 pm
Entrance to Tower Building
166-220 Holloway Road, London N7 8DB
Good and bad news at Londonmet
In a dying gasp for air the beleaguered and discredited UK Border Agency (now being wound up after five incompetent years) has finally recognised that Londonmet is at least as entitled as any other university to recruit ‘foreign’ students from outside the EU (at least for the next 12 months).
The withdrawal of Londonmet’s license to sponsor student visas in August last year took place four months after it had formed a partnership with the private education provider, the London School of Business and Finance, and its renewal on April 9 2013 follows four months after that partnership was terminated.
This good news for staff and students at Londonmet (and indeed for UK Higher Education generally) is tempered by the University’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer’s decision on April 8 to continue to charge the UNISON chair, Max Watson, and the Director of the Working Lives Research Institute, Professor Steve Jefferys, who strongly criticised management’s outsourcing strategy in 2012. They are both accused of ‘serious misconduct’ over the 2008 appointment of the Palestinian Jawad Botmeh, who had served over 13 years in British prisons in a well-known miscarriage of justice case, and who had been elected a staff governor in January 2013.
Jawad was suspended from February 7 to March 11 2013. Max was suspended from February 7 to March 13. Steve was suspended from February 20 to March 13. Their suspensions were lifted after 2,500 people signed a protest petition and hundreds wrote to the VC and to the Board of Governors.
Londonmet’s Vice Chancellor, Malcolm Gillies, told all staff on March 12 that ‘the University can have trust and confidence in Jawad Botmeh’. Two days later, anxious not to be used as an excuse by anyone to deny Londonmet its ability to sponsor overseas students, Jawad resigned from the Board of Governors.
Rather than use this resolution to end the damaging episode, on Friday March 15 Max and Steve were written to by the now-retired Director of HR charging them with ‘serious misconduct’, and listing its possible penalties as loss of wages, loss of ‘privileges/facilities’ and/or a final written warning.
The charges are being sucked out of someone’s thumb.
– The VC’s clean bill of health for Jawad, confirming Steve’s judgement that there was no risk to anyone in Steve’s appointing Jawad; and
– Jawad’s background as a victim of a miscarriage of justice; and
– Evidence from top immigration lawyers that Jawad always had the right to remain and work in the UK, there being no risk at all of a breach of immigration law; and
– HR never raising a single query about the forms Steve filled in,
the accusations against Steve are that he exposed the university to risk and didn’t fill in forms properly.
– Jawad being the only candidate who got his application for the part-time casual PSG3 post in by the deadline; and
– Max, a PSG4 admin worker, encouraging others to apply; and
– Max having met Jawad once prior to his appointment and having answered two telephone and two email queries from him; and
– Max being one of three people who interviewed Jawad; and
– Steve having responsibility for Casual appointments and being responsible for submitting the Casual Employment Forms,
the accusations against Max are that he unfairly favoured Jawad.
Continuing with these ‘charges’ is an attack on logic.
It is an attack on trade unionism.
It is an attack on criticism.
Join the Lobby of London Metropolitan University between 1 and 2 pm on Wednesday 17 April