UCU NEC elections:
Vote Mary-Ellen Large for North East HE
Effective branches are a necessity not a luxury
I am employed by the University of Hull as an academic in Psychology. I became active in my local UCU branch in 2015. I served as a Health and Safety Officer from 2017, campaigning on workload and stress. In 2019, I served as President of my local branch, campaigning and negotiating against redundancies and standing up for members’ safety during the onset of Covid. I have represented my branch on the Yorkshire-Humberside Regional Committee since 2018. I am a member of UCU Left.
I expect that you, like me, have seen working conditions deteriorate over the last couple of decades, with an acceleration of the decline since the HE sector became a ‘market’. Our workloads have exploded as our pay and pensions have been cut. No longer are we valued for our expertise, but reduced to cogs in a money-making machine and infantilized by senior management.
Universities should be the vanguard for tackling climate action, climate justice and equality. Yet, huge chunks of our time are spent on adapting to yet another bout of management-driven organizational change. Individual resistance stands little chance against increasingly authoritarian university bureaucracies. And those with the least power, such as people on casualized contracts, and members of minority groups are at the sharp end of inhumane administrative decisions. This is why the fight on the gender gap and anti-casualization is so important.
The HE sector is in crisis and the old service model of trade unionism is not cutting through. An effective trade union in a workplace makes a real difference to people’s lives and it is increasingly obvious that effective branches are a necessity not a luxury. Our sector is full of talented people with drive as evidenced by wins on redundancy and on health and safety during Covid. I have no doubt that working together we can turn the tide. I want a powerful union that works for all members, one that is run by members, is accountable to members and can mobilize members. I want to build networks with other branches so that we can support and learn from each other, especially in the development of new tactics for resistance.
We all need branches that have the power to say ‘no’ to the erosion of our working conditions, pay and pensions. Please vote for me if you share this vision for an active, democratic trade union. We can do this, together.