Lectures cancelled as rally for suspended union rep closes Soas library and buildings

Hundreds of protesters gather on Bloomsbury campus in support of suspended Unison branch secretary Sandy Nicoll

October 29, 2015

Lectures at a London university were cancelled today after an entrance was blocked by a major protest in support of a suspended union officer.

Hundreds of protesters shut down part of the Bloomsbury campus of Soas, part of the University of London, on 29 October over the suspension of Sandy Nicoll, who is Unison branch secretary at the institution. 

Mr Nicoll, who has worked in the university’s IT department for 21 years, said that he has been suspended pending an investigation into claims that he allowed students to occupy parts of the Soas campus.

He told London’s Evening Standard that the allegation was “totally untrue”. 

The protest follows a long-running dispute over pay and working conditions for cleaners at the university.

Cleaners working for outsourced company ISS claim that they receive less holiday entitlement and sick pay, and fewer pension benefits, than those employed by Soas.

Despite support for Mr Nicoll among some students, other undergraduates took to social media to complain that they had been denied the chance to attend lectures that day.

A university spokeswoman told Times Higher Education that its college buildings and library were closed at 10.15am.

“This was due to a crowd barring entry to the building. Estates and Facilities could not guarantee the safety of staff and students, therefore the decision was taken to close the building and the library until the school can provide safe access to the building.

“Classes in the main building at Russell Square were postponed as of 10.30am. Lessons in Vernon Square and other Russell Square buildings are still taking place.”


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Reader's comments (1)

Chris Ince, formerly of the notoriously heavy handed Kingston University, is now the University Secretary at SOAS, having taken over from another Kingston former, Donald Beaton. So it should come as no surprise that such tactics are now being used against staff at SOAS.