Socialist Worker

Victory as Soas union rep Sandy Nicoll is reinstated - unofficial action works

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2478

Hundreds rallied to defend Sandy against victimisation - and he won

Hundreds rallied to defend Sandy against victimisation - and he won (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Bosses at the School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas) in London have withdrawn the suspension of Unison union branch secretary Sandy Nicoll.

They had tried to victimise Sandy and suspended him on trumped up charges of “gross misconduct” linked to supporting a student protest. But workers in his union branch responded magnificently with a series of unofficial walkouts to defend Sandy.

UCU union members joined those walkouts along with many students. Hundreds rallied in his defence and drew in wider solidarity from the trade union movement.

Sandy told Socialist Worker, “I’m happy to be returning to work this morning. It’s a testimony to the solidarity I got from my union, colleagues in the UCU and from the students’ union.

“The only reason I’m returning to work is because of the solid unofficial action they took.”

Soas workers didn’t wait for a ballot or permission from a union official to take action. They defied the anti-union laws – and they won. Their action shows what is possible.

Sandy said, “The anti-union laws are there to try and restrict us but we can defy them. This is a lesson for resisting the Tories’ Trade Union Bill and their austerity juggernaut.

“The bill may well get through parliament but this shows workers can stand up to their laws and beat them.”

Soas bosses victimised Sandy to try and take out a key figure of opposition ahead of their plan to impose £6.5 million cuts.

Sandy stressed, “We now need to get back to resisting these cuts and fighting for the kind of university we want to see.”

Sandy’s reinstatement is a great victory for solidarity and united action. And it’s further proof that workers can break the law and beat back the bosses’ attacks.

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