I am writing to you to thank you for being one of 2,500 people who signed a petition in February and March of this year protesting at the suspensions by London Metropolitan University of myself (Professor of European Employment Studies), Max Watson (the UNISON trade union branch chairperson) and Jawad Botmeh (a Palestinian who had served 13 years in prison as a result of a major miscarriage of justice) in connection with the Working Lives Research Institute having given Jawad work. You may remember that the suspensions followed immediately after Jawad’s being elected by LondonMet staff to represent them as a Governor on the LondonMet Board of Governors.
The result of your efforts was a real success: we were all reinstated by March 13. Jawad resigned as Governor on March 14 and is now back at work.
However, senior management has continued to attempt to make life difficult for Max and me by charging both of us with ‘serious misconduct’ in connection with Jawad’s appointment to a half-time casual job in 2008. This was despite the fact that his 2010 appointment to a permanent post was what triggered his ability to stand as a Governor – and the fact that this appointment went through HR and was raised with Professor Malcolm Gillies, five months after he became VC.
In our hearings and at our appeals both Max and I were found ‘guilty’: Max for ‘not remembering’ how Jawad had found out about job and for allegedly ‘coaching’ him (the only candidate); me – although no rules were broken – for failing to approach an even more senior management to approve such a ‘controversial’ appointment.
While Max was a junior administrative assistant at the time of Jawad’s appointment, and I was responsible for it – a decision that led to no risk or damage to the university, staff or students (unlike a series of other decisions taken by other senior managers, none of whom we were told at my appeal, has ever been taken before the university’s disciplinary proceedings) – our punishments are now different.
As from July 1 the Final Warning I was issued on April 23rd, has expired. It is for this reason I am now able to write to you all to explain what has happened.
Unfortunately, Max Watson has got a six months’ Final Warning which will now only expire on November 1. This is disgraceful treatment of a worker who did absolutely nothing wrong; and it confirms concerns that the management has all along aimed to victimise him because he is an effective trade unionist. This issue is obviously of particular concern to the UNISON trade union, the UK’s largest public sector union, but it it also of concern to all who are concerned with rights at work and social justice.
One final suggestion. The Working Lives Research Institute is about rights at work and social justice. If you are not already on our mailing list, I would like to invite you to go to
and to sign up. Besides showcasing the research projects we work on, under Courses on the website you will find our flagship Professional Doctorate programme – the DProf (Researching Work). This is a part-time doctoral programme that operates on a 5 a year two-day intensive study basis and leads to a doctoral degree usually based on a thesis probing a professional issue of direct relevance to you. Do contact us if you are interested… a new cohort is starting in October.
Of course, our DProf programme will now be enriched with a critical analysis of our own arbitrary managerial action and of the ethics of human resource management, as well as with examples from our recent research on Forced Labour (for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation), http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2013/jun/05/european-governments-oblivious-forced-labour-conditions
Once again, Thanks for your support. You helped us win reinstatement.
Solidarity remains as important for social justice as ever.
yours in solidarity
(In personal capacity)