Chechi supporters stage protest at Queen Mary

Campaigners protest outside QMU for Vik Chechi

Protesters gathered outside QMU for suspended Vik Chechi Pic: Vik Chechi

Supporters of a Queen Mary university employee allegedly suspended for trade union activities held a protest outside the university on Tuesday.

Around 30 people, including students and trade unionists from other universities, attended a protest this afternoon, calling for the reinstatement of QMU Unison branch secretary Vik Chechi.

As reported by EastLondonLines last week, Chechi was suspended from his work duties in October on what is believed to be a charge of gross misconduct.

The University has refused to comment on the reasons for his suspension, but supporters say he was targeted specifically due to his active role in opposing cuts to jobs and services at the university.

Delegates from the University and College Union branches of London Metropolitan universities and the School of Oriental and African Studies were present at the protest alongside QMU Unison and UCU members, all of whom were demanding Chechi be allowed to return to his job.

EastLondonLines understands that around 100 positions have been earmarked for redundancy at the institution, which has campuses in Whitechapel and Mile End. This follows the axing of 26 library staff in the summer.

Ross Spear, a student involved in the campaign group Queen Mary University Stop The Cuts, told EastLondonLines: “We want to broaden out the campaign so it is not just about Vik’s suspension but also about cuts to services. The university has been silent on the matter in order to push through what they can – this is a combative approach.

“We want dialogue with the university about what is happening, but there is none”.

Respondong to the protest, a QMU spokesperson said: “Queen Mary re-iterates that … Vikhas Chechi is not in any way barred from his role as a representative of Unison. He therefore continues to enjoy the provisions in place for Trades Union duties and activities.”

Prior to Tuesday’s protest, Chechi’s supporters complained that members of the public were prevented by security from attending a meeting last Thursday, which was organised as part of the campaign.

In response to the allegation QMU said that the meeting was “an internal … Unison branch meeting … not a public event”.

QMU was one of the universities least hit by government cuts to higher education funding announced in March. However, it must still plug a 2.6 per cent shortfall in funding compared with the previous academic year.

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