UCU NEC elections:
Vote Khizer Saeed for Migrant members
Mobilising Migrant Members
I am a Principal Lecturer in Engineering at University of Brighton. For a number of years I have been a UCU branch secretary and Equality Officer for Brighton UCU. I am a member of UCU Left.
Before coming to Britain, I was active in India in social movements such as Mandal movement for the reservation of government jobs for the socially deprived people. I have participated in the Indian Universities strikes for the protection of academic’s jobs, their pensions, and salaries. As migrant worker, I have personally experienced bullying and racism during my initial years in the job. UCU has helped me fight this successfully and restored my prestige. This has given me the confidence to fight for the causes of migrant workers.
Despite the benefits they bring to the UK higher education sector, migrant workers continue to face many serious challenges. These range from direct racial and religious discrimination, bullying and abuse, to contract violations and employment difficulties. The problems of migrant workers have been made worse by this government’s attitude to immigration. The ‘hostile environment’ is designed to make us feel like we do not belong, while the costs and bureaucracy of the visa system make our lives more difficult than those of our colleagues. Migrant academics find it more difficult to secure research funding which in turn affects the possibility of promotion. Migrant staff are least represented in high ranking positions in British universities and colleges.
If elected, I would aim to develop UCU’s policies that will bring meaningful and lasting changes to the challenges faced by the migrant workers.
Racism and anti-migrant sentiment have no place in education or society as a whole. We should campaign for universities and colleges to demonstrate their commitments to equality by celebrating the contribution of migrant workers to this country. We need to fight to reverse the cuts to funding and closure of ESOL courses. We must push our employers to address the difficulties their migrant staff experience. They should provide advice and guidance on the visa process and cover its costs. Why should some staff have to bear costs related to their employment simply on the basis of their nationality?
Strength and Unity
It is crucial for the strength and unity of our union that we consistently tackle inequality at work. Very often our employers pay only lip-service to equality and treat badges like the Race Equality Charter Mark as tick-box exercises. More than ever we need strong union organisation capable of mobilising members to defend their terms and conditions. The marketisation of education has been a disaster. It means unmanageable workloads and cuts to pay and pensions, with some staff, like migrant workers, suffering the most. It is also disastrous for the quality of education we are able to offer our students.That’s why every dispute involving UCU members is important and deserves maximum solidarity, from local pay fights in FE to the UK-wide HE disputes over USS and the Four Fights.