The Branch held its Annual General Meeting on 29th March 2016. The AGM began with the screening of a short video about the demonstrations against the Government’s policy of forced academisation of all schools, with an emphasis on solidarity between reforms in education and the then on-going junior doctors’ dispute.
The meeting was then formally opened by Branch Chair, Claire Locke. There was a brief discussion and review of last year’s activities, and some questions from the floor.
The election of the branch officers then took place, including the passing of the branch Finance report and the election of the auditor.
The membership report highlighted the fact that membership has been affected by the job losses across the university in the past year. Branch recruitment efforts are therefore a priority in the coming year.
Branch Secretary, Patrick Bellew, then gave his report. Patrick began by reminding us of the staff that have been lost to redundancy in the last year. In particular Patrick extended a special thank you, on behalf of the branch, to Max Watson and Allan Pike who have left since the last AGM. Their commitment and hard work on behalf of the branch, and many individual members, over many years was commended.
Patrick reported that there have been many casework successes over the last year, despite the continued redundancies, and he thanked the branch reps for their efforts on behalf of members. Patrick finished his report with an appealfor members to stick together and stand up against bullying and increased levels of stress in the forthcoming year which he (correctly!) predicted would see further rounds of redundancy in prospect.
Two guest speakers then addressed the AGM. Shaun Dey from Reel News reported on how the organisation had supported London Met Unison over recent years, producing videos during our days of strike action and other events. Shaun updated members on the other projects they have recently been involved in: the junior doctors’ dispute, teachers’ demos and climate change protests in Paris. Shaun also told us about an exciting project in Spain to interview the families of trade unionists and activists persecuted under the Franco regime. The AGM voted unanimously to donate £300 to Reel News to assist with the Spanish project.
Sandy Nicoll from SOAS, who also sits on the Unison HE Service Group Executive, updated the branch on the national pay campaign and encouraged members to support the national union in rejecting the offered 1% pay rise. Sandy also announced that SOAS have won a massive victory in convincing the university to bring their cleaners back in-house. Sandy shared his experience and recommendations in organising strategy and lessons from how the campaign had been won.
The branch then discussed and unanimously carried two motions on Stress and the Pay Campaign, and finished with a general Q&A session in which members had an opportunity to raise their concerns. Chair Claire Locke encouraged all members to contact her with any questions or concerns about the One Campus project and upcoming redundancies, so they can be escalated to management.