Workers and students rallied to defend suspended Unison union branch secretary Sandy Nicoll outside the School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas) this morning, Thursday.
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 bosses’ plans to push through £6.5 million in cuts.
Sandy told the rally, “It’s humbling to see so many people here, but this isn’t about me.
“It’s about what sort of university we want to see”
It’s humbling to see so many people here, but this isn’t about me. “It’s about what sort of university we want to see”
The Soas Unison branch voted near unanimously for a walkout in solidarity with Sandy.
Around 60 Unison members and 20 UCU lecturers’ union members have already refused to go into work this morning.
To chants of “Shame on Soas”, lines of students blocked the main building entrance and forced security the shut the doors.
Huddles of students and lecturers stood in the campus courtyard, having agreed to can lectures this morning.
Soas UCU branch secretary Johnny Darlington told Socialist Worker, “If it takes unofficial action to make Sandy reinstated – then so be it.”
Sandy is an exemplary working class fighter, well known for standing up for union members and bringing solidarity to others fighting back.
Luis Armando, a cleaner at Soas, told Socialist Worker, “Sandy always supported the Justice for Cleaners campaign. He helped us win union recognition, the London Living Wage, sick pay, pensions and holidays.
“He did everything he could for us – now it’s time to support him.”
Antonia, the Unison branch’s black members’ officer, told the rally, “It’s not easy being support staff at Soas because people face bullying and harassment.
“Every department has someone who Sandy stood up for.”
Trade Unionists across London have responded to management’s attack.
John Rogers, Lambeth College Unison branch secretary and national executive member, brought solidarity from Unison left general secretary candidate John Burgess.
The attack on Sandy comes ahead of the Tories trying to push the Trade Union Bill through parliament on Monday 2 November.
Helen Davies, Unison Barnet branch chair in north London, joined the protest. She invited people to join Barnet Unison striking against mass privatisation and the protest outside parliament on that day.
“Attacking the right to strike is like saying, ‘you can breathe but only if we put a plastic bag around your head’,” she said.
Activists have responded quickly. Now there is a callout for everyone who supports Sandy to join a protest at 1pm.
James said, “I encourage all of our members to join the rally this afternoon and stand with a trade unionist who’s been victimised.”
Mass action and strikes can beat this attack.
Every trade unionist and activist should go all out to build solidarity with Sandy.
Soas cleaner Consuelo Moreno, “We will be with Sandy until the end. We are with you, we love you.”
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His treatment exposes the British state