Over 500 workers and students rallied this afternoon, Thursday, to defend suspended Unison union branch secretary Sandy Nicoll outside the School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas).
Soas bosses suspended Sandy last night on trumped up charges of “gross misconduct” linked to supporting a student protest.
Students had occupied one of the buildings against plans to push through £6.5 million in cuts.
Solidarity has poured in all day from trade unionists, including the London regions of the Unison, UCU and RMT unions. Dozens of union branches and student unions also sent messages.
And Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell offered his support to get Sandy reinstated.
The Soas Unison branch voted to walk out this morning in solidarity with Sandy. Around 60 Unison members and 20 UCU members refused to go into work.
Students formed a solid solidarity picket line urging other Soas students to stay away from classes. Bosses then panicked and shut the building down.
Sandy is an exemplary working class fighter, well known for standing up for union members and bringing solidarity to others fighting back.
Speakers at the rally spoke of the solidarity they have received from Soas Unison and why it was essential now to return it.
Mark Campbell from London Met UCU said, “I salute Unison and UCU members who took the right decision to walkout this morning.”
It is now crucial to show bosses they won’t back down.
“Sandy works tirelessly for everyone here at Soas and I have nothing but respect for him,” politics lecturer Meera told the crowd. “Management always try and pit us against each other but we are showing we won’t be divided,” she added.
Both Unison and UCU are set to hold meetings tomorrow morning to decide the next move.
Soas UCU branch secretary Johnny Darlington told Socialist Worker, “If it takes unofficial action to make Sandy reinstated – then so be it.”
The attack on Sandy comes ahead of the Tories trying to push through the Trade Union Bill and weaken resistance to their plans for deeper cuts and further privatisation.
Barnet Unison secretary and left general secretary candidate John Burgess has called on the Unison leadership to act quickly to defend Sandy.
He argued they should immediately authorise a strike ballot, seek to coordinate action with other Soas unions and demand bosses issue a public apology and reinstate Sandy.
Mass action and strikes can beat this attack. Every trade unionist and activist should go all out to build solidarity with Sandy.
Soas Unison cleaners’ rep Consuelo Moreno said, “We will be with Sandy until the end. We are with you, we love you.”
PROTEST – 1pm, Friday 30 October, Soas main building, WC1H 0XG