Events at London Metropolitan University continue to defy logical analysis.
I reported last week on the bewildering suspension of three LMU trade unionists, which had union general secretaries talking publicly of victimisation and "union-busting."
The response from the public, including Star readers, was heartening. Six-hundred letters of protest were sent to vice-chancellor Malcolm Gillies and the board of governors, and 2,500 people around the world signed a petition.
Last week all three men were reinstated.
One of the three, Professor Steve Jefferys, told supporters: "You helped us all. You knew the difference between right and wrong [and that] it was vital to support the right to union representation … This victory confirms the importance of collective strength and solidarity."
But developments within the last 72 hours suggest management may still wish to victimise and intimidate staff away - they hope - from the spotlight.
To recap, the three employees are Unison branch chairman and NEC member Max Watson, newly elected staff governor Jawad Botmeh and Jefferys.
All work for the Working Lives Research Institute (WLRI), which does well-respected work for social justice and in parallel with trade unions.
Jefferys had not long since published a paper challenging the university's outsourcing strategy.
Botmeh had frequently and properly declared a past criminal conviction in the course of his work at LMU.
In appointing Botmeh, both Watson and Jefferys followed university policy to the letter - nowhere does it require discrimination against former offenders.
Botmeh's record only became a problem after his election to the board of governors, after which the men were suddenly suspended.
A senior University and College Union representative called LMU's behaviour "crass stupidity," while PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said it was clear LMU was victimising trade unionists involved in opposing cuts.
Jefferys was clear that, in overturning the suspensions, LMU had bowed to pressure alone.
"The reinstatements … came about not because of any new facts emerging but because of the thousands who signed the petition and the hundreds who wrote protest letters in to the university."
But events took a worrying turn on Friday afternoon and two of them, although reinstated, will still face "misconduct" charges around Botmeh's appointment.
We must not be distracted from this cause or the vital principles underlying it. We must continue to support the three until all of the spurious charges have been dropped.
Nothing less than trade union democracy and freedom of speech are at stake here.
Email Vice-Chancellor Malcolm Gillies to demand all charges against Max Watson, Jawad Botmeh and Steve Jefferys be dropped at firstname.lastname@example.org
For coming events, messages of solidarity, model motion for union branches and details on donations, stopthewitchhunt.wordpress.com and www.londonmetunison.org.uk
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