Matt Perry

UCU NEC elections: 
Vote Matt Perry for North East HE

For a union that fights for all

I’m Reader in Labour History at Newcastle University. Amongst other things I research the Jarrow marchers of 1936 and have had the privilege of teaching their grandchildren at Sunderland and then Newcastle Universities. I am a committed trade unionist, socialist and support UCU Left. 

Since joining NATFHE as a doctoral research assistant in 1990, I have been a union representative continuously in Wolverhampton Polytechnic, Sunderland University and Newcastle University branches. I am familiar with conditions both sides of the 1992 divide. I spent the hardest two years of my working life hourly-paid. 


At Sunderland University, I joined the branch committee shortly after arrival becoming rep, committee member, membership secretary and then branch secretary. On three occasions, we prevented compulsory redundancies through balloting for and in one instance taking industrial action. I also chaired Sunderland Stop the War and campaigned against the BNP who stood in every ward in the city. I played a significant role in the branch response to the racist murder of an asylum seeker. I have served on UCU regional committee for over a decade. 

Since joining Newcastle University in 2006, I have continuously been a rep and committee member, serving as branch secretary, membership secretary, and vice-chair. I played a leading role in successful industrial action against performance management (‘Raising the Bar’) in summer 2016, writing this up for a Labour Research pamphlet. 


I have also campaigned against the deportation of a Nigerian student and the husband of a colleague. I organised a successful campaign against bullying and harassment, with colleagues in UNISON, adapting the HSE’s stress indicator survey. I have challenged sexual harassment. 

I firmly believe in the union’s equality agenda and have sought to ensure that the union has a visible profile in this work and that the union goes beyond the university’s EDI, Athena Swann and Race Equality Charter.


I have been crucial to significant growth in our branch membership, putting an emphasis upon grassroots campaigning and dialogue with members’ concerns, through unit meetings and building the reps structures. I initiated regular reps meetings, launched the anti-casualisation campaign in 2015, and ensured that we have meetings for our Professional Service staff. One big union from PGRs to Profs and from Careers Staff to researchers can unite the generations to fight for pensions justice, equal pay and for permanent jobs. 

We need solidarity with students. We should stop thinking of them as consumers but as our younger selves having common interests with us: tuition fees undermine Higher Education and widen inequality. 

Finally, solidarity and action make unions. Invited speakers to our branch from Liverpool University and Goldsmiths disputes are a humbling inspiration, and victories are worth more than our strike fund donations.