Uni worker suspended for “opposing cuts and union activity”

A university worker has accused his bosses of suspending him because he has been vehemently opposing redundancies in his role as a union representative.

Vik Chechi was removed from his job at Queen Mary, University of London last month and is convinced bosses made the decision because of his role as Unison branch secretary.

Unison is accusing the university of attempting to “decapitate the union” during a time when 100 job losses are being proposed.

Mr Chechi, who worked at the Whitechapel-based Centre of the Cell education centre, was told his time keeping and attendance were the reasons for the suspension but he believes his vocal opposition to changes in conditions and workload for staff, along with the redundancies, fuelled the move.

He said: “This would not have happened if I was a normal member of staff.

“The usual process would be verbal and written warnings but they’ve allowed this to build up for seven months.The allegations also include raising fictitious complaints to management. These are complaints I’ve raised on behalf of members. Over the last six or seven months many members have had issues with workload, stress and victimisation.”

Olivia Ribeiro, who is the Unison branch communications officer at Centre of the Cell, where she also works, said: “Vik has been very active against the redundancies. It’s definitely trade union victimisation.”

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Ross Speer, of action group Queen Mary Stop the Cuts, branded the suspension “worrying”.

He added: “This is nothing but a crude attempt at union busting directed at a person who has worked tirelessly to provide representation for Queen Mary staff at a time when it is sorely needed.”

A petition has now been set up by the union to get Mr Chechi reinstated and has 250 signatures from staff, students and members.

Queen Mary human resources director, Chris Pearson said the university could not discuss individual cases but could confirm that Mr Chechi has not “in any way been barred from his role as a representative of Unison”.

A protest organised by Unison to reinstate Mr Chechi is set to take place on Tuesday at the university’s Whitechapel site in Newark Street.

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