Professor Steve Jefferys, European employment relations academic, Director of Londonmet’s Faculty Advanced Institute for Research (FAIR) and head of WLRI, was suspended on Wednesday 20 February for ‘potential gross misconduct’. Five years previously, he had agreed that Jawad Botmeh should have the chance of going forward to be interviewed as a part-time casual administrative worker on a temporary three month contract in WLRI, when Jawad had a criminal record (he had served 13 years on a conspiracy charge).
Jawad Botmeh, after working for five years to the complete satisfaction of all staff and post-graduate students who worked with him, was overwhelmingly elected to the Board of Governors as one of two staff representatives. Two weeks later, on February 7 he was suspended.
Max Watson, a WLRI administrator who is also Chair of the Londonmet UNISON branch, was also suspended on February 7. Max had been recently singled out by the Vice-Chancellor in an all staff email because of UNISON’s opposition to the involvement of Capita in the university’s Business Process Review.
Steve, Jawad and Max have broken no university rules. They have all been entirely open and honest with the university. Professor Jefferys had the authority to make casual appointments. There were no procedures suggesting he should discriminate against former prisoners. Jawad had twice informed the university in writing of his earlier prison sentence and conviction and this evidence is on their files.
The WLRI was set up by Londonmet to undertake ‘academic, applied and socially-committed research and teaching emphasising equality and social justice into all aspects of working lives’. Now is the time for the university to be FAIR to the Institute and its staff.
These suspensions are an attack on the principles of staff rights and representation, on social justice and on academic freedom.
REINSTATE JAWAD, MAX and STEVE
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