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10 February 2020

Why UCU Left?

Debate during the UCU elections has raised the question of why the UCU Left exists and why there are groupings and ‘factions’ in the union.

For a number of years two organisations have put forward candidates for elections with competing visions for the union – the right wing Independent Broad Left (IBL) and UCU Left. 
 
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More recently, other groupings have emerged in UCU such as USS Briefs and the Branch Solidarity Network. These groups don’t put forward candidates for the NEC. 

But in this year’s NEC election another list of candidates is standing supported by grady4gs. 
 
There is nothing wrong with people organising as grouping within a union. Broad Lefts and other groupings exist in all trade unions. In fact groups of like minded-people coming together and openly arguing for a political and industrial strategy is not only acceptable, it’s also democratic.
 
It is only on the basis of open differentiation between groups of candidates that members can take a meaningful decision on who to vote for.
 
Our candidates declare they are UCU Left and make it clear what they stand for.
 
We are for a fighting member-led union whose elected officers implement the policies democratically decided upon by UCU members – where the rank and file take the lead. 
 
If you agree with that vision, vote for the Vice President candidate who represents it in practice – Margot Hill. 
 
UCU Left members have been most responsible for shaping the dual dispute strategy of escalating strikes currently being pursued in HE. We opposed attempts at ‘de-coupling’ the USS & 4-fights disputes – we don’t believe it will strengthen us if the fight over casualisation & equalities is separated off from the battle over pensions. 
 
If you think that this strategy is right, vote to re-elect Jo McNeill,  Mark Abel and other UCU Left candidates. If not, vote for other candidates, although ask them questions, most are on twitter, as their alternative strategy may not be clear from election addresses or other literature available.
The IBL candidates have clearly opposed our strategy in the HE dispute arguing for ‘de-coupling’ and to roll back on the scale of strike action. It is much less clear where candidates on the Jo4GS slate actually stand on these crucial issues. Again, ask them directly.
 
It might be helpful to ask the following questions:

1) What is your opinion on the dual dispute strategy?

2) What is your opinion on the work of the Democracy Commission?

UCU Left is a collection of activists who are members of different political organisations and none. This means that our activists have political interests beyond those of narrow trade unionism which they bring to their work in UCU. 
 
We are all elected reps who have won support from our branches to represent them at different levels in the union. The influence UCU Left has had inside UCU has been won by openly canvassing support for our strategy in branches – in regions and at union conference and congresses. Anyone can come to our meetings and help us build a Left Network inside of UCU. 
 
The President-Elect, Nita Sanghera who tragically died recently, was a UCU Left member. Like her, we are anti-racism, anti-war and climate change campaigners, fighters for women’s liberation and for solidarity with the Palestinians.
 
In a university sector where all the black women professors in Britain can be assembled in one picture and where we live with the reality of the gender and BAME pay gap, UCU Left has always put equalities at the heart of our activism. 
 
The institutional racism and sexism at the heart of the education system has to be challenged robustly and structurally. A trade union that doesn’t challenge oppression will fail to win on ‘bread and butter’ issues and won’t be able to hold and develop the thousands of new activists that have joined our union in the last couple of years. 
 
These are the politics that we bring to the harassment and bullying cases that we take up on behalf of members, week in week out, when we challenge the presence of racists on campus, oppose sexism and sexual harassment, defend our migrant colleagues, and stick up for academic freedom against government and management censorship.
 
None of this is secret. We are proud of these politics and we stand on our record as union activists and campaigners. 
 
Our candidates like Margot Hill, Jo McNeill and others have a long record as fighters against oppression and delivering for their members. They have helped shape and lead the rank and file revolts inside UCU that have transformed our union. 
 
We’re proud of our record. When you vote for UCU Left candidates you know what you’re getting – a fighting union.
 
UCU Left candidates

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