UCU Left calls on members to vote for candidates who are committed to fighting for Health and Safety, workers’ rights, equality, and protecting the planet.
In the coming UCU NEC elections it is important all members vote. Low polls comfort only the employers, who use them as an argument for ignoring union reps.
Five Key Issues
- Health and Safety first
- End excessive workloads
- Defend Education
- Black Lives Matter
- No return to austerity
We recommend voting for the following candidates:
|Post||Candidate & |
recommended voting order
(click to see statement)
|Honorary Treasurer||1 Professor Paul Anderson|
|Midlands HE||1 Rhiannon Lockley|
2 Alan Barker
|Midlands FE||1 Dharminder Chuhan|
|North West HE||1 Saira Weiner|
2 Sunil Banga
|South HE||1 Mark Abel|
2 Dr Deepa Govindarajan Driver
3 Richard Bradbury
|South FE||1 Philip Wilson|
|UK-elected HE||1 Marion Hersh|
2 Lesley McGorrigan
3 Maria Chondrogianni
4 Sunil Banga
|UK-elected FE||1 Margot Hill|
2 Saleem Rashid
|Representative of Disabled Members||1 Marian Mayer|
|Representative of LGBT+ Members||1 Bee Hughes|
|Representatives of Black Members||1 Dr Deepa Govindarajan Driver|
2 Juliana Ojinnaka
Health and Safety first. Support industrial action to stop unsafe working
No return until it’s safe – action, not surveys, will protect people’s health
We all want to return to the universities and colleges when it is safe to do so, but we must resist any moves to pressurise any workers to return to workplaces until the pandemic is under control. We need to develop collective ways to use Health and Safety legislation to protect us from unsafe conditions that put our lives and those of our communities at risk. But we also need to ballot for industrial action where employers are threatening to make workers work in unsafe conditions. We must insist on all teaching being online until it is safe to return to face-to-face delivery. Instead of surveying members’ views on industrial action in the abstract, UCU needs to follow the NEU teachers’ union in holding mass online meetings to organise resistance to unsafe conditions. Despite Covid, we need to restore the full democratic life of all levels of the union so members and their elected representatives can share experiences and debate the best way forward.
The National Education Union has shown the way in defending workers’ health and safety. We salute our NEU comrades. Their determined resistance and mass member online meetings have forced the Government to close down the schools. On Sunday 3rd January Boris Johnson on the Andrew Marr Show said parents should send their children to school on 4th January. By 5th January the Government did a U-turn and imposed a national lockdown, closing schools for all except children of key workers and vulnerable children. We oppose attempts to expand the definition of key workers and vulnerable children so that schools effectively stay open for most pupils.
Vaccines for the world
None of us are safe until everyone in the world is safe. We must campaign for vaccines to be available cheaply or free for all countries in the world. Oxfam has warned of a danger that people in many poorer countries of the world may not get a vaccine until 2022. We need mass vaccination programmes worldwide.
End excessive workloads. Better support for homeworking
Anyone with a basic understanding of teaching appreciates that developing online learning packages is not a simple matter of sticking lecture notes online. Education staff need time and support to deliver online learning. Many education staff are now exhausted with trying to cope since March with a rapid shift to online teaching. There are also real Health and Safety issues about how many hours anyone can be expected to sit at a computer. There are risks of damage to eyesight and general health and mobility. The way the Government has repeatedly waited until too late to announce lockdowns has added to the stress and workloads.
Too many members are finding homeworking presents a range of problems such as lack of IT support, too many online meetings and the impossibility of trying to combine a full-time job with full-time home-schooling of children. Homeworking needs to be properly managed and supported, with clear contractual boundaries round expectations and working hours. Parents who are home-schooling should not be expected to do a full-time job in addition and should be given reduced working hours without loss of pay. University and college staff should be financially reimbursed for additional costs they incur, such as heating, lighting and electricity, as a result of homeworking and time for cleaning our workspaces must come out of our working hours. As with any rapid transition in mode of working, people need time to learn new ways of working, genuine support and manageable workloads.
Defend Education. Support our students
Rethink exams and assessment
Education is not only about assessment and qualifications. It is about developing human beings and educating citizens for a democratic society. Marketisation of education has led to an obsession with assessment at the expense of learning. The pandemic has forced the cancellation of school and college exams. Now is the time to make that permanent and for a rethink about the purposes of education. Any revised assessment methods and processes for school and university students must deliver fairness and protect students from excessive examination stress.
Given that much university, college and school-teaching will be online for some time, the Government must take action to end digital poverty and exclusion. This means ensuring that all students and pupils have access to a computer and that all homes have decent broadband connections. Where students, pupils and their parents or guardians need advice and tutorial support to enable online learning, this too must be provided.
Higher Education students were conned into moving to university accommodation so that they could be milked for rent revenues. Marketised education means treating students as cash cows. We support rent strikes by students.
Carry on the struggles
Defending education also means defending the working conditions of the workforce. UCU Left stands for carrying on the Four Fights in Higher Education. We stand for action to defend pensions and for decent pay. The pandemic must not halt the fight to end casualisation, tackle the gender and race pay gaps and ensure manageable workloads.
Black Lives Matter. Fight Racism and Fascism
Black Lives Matter
2020 was the year of the Black Lives Matter protests in the USA and world-wide. Many Black people and many of their white allies declared their intention not to tolerate racism by police and governments any longer. The Black Lives Matter movement has not only put the spotlight on policing; it has boosted moves to decolonise the curriculum and to critically examine building names and statues which celebrate individuals involved in the slave trade and in colonial exploitation. The disproportionately high level of deaths of BAME workers and patients has demonstrated how healthcare and racial and class inequalities are inter-related. Building a better future must include tackling inequalities based on class, race and sex.
Resist the far-right
In the USA and world-wide the defeat of Donald Trump in the presidential election has been a set-back for the far-right. There are still too many right-wing politicians who engage in dog-whistle politics and open the door for the far-right and the fascists. We work with students and groups like Stand Up to Racism to stop racists and fascists organising on campus and beyond.
No Return to Austerity
The pandemic and the climate emergency are part of the same problem
Both have their roots in the exploitation of nature for profit and the failure of governments to take into account the environmental implications of methods of food production, poor food hygiene and failure to reduce carbon emissions. Many people want to build a better world after the pandemic. This includes tackling the climate emergency and improving hygiene standards, especially in food production and public transport. We should campaign for universities and colleges to be zero-carbon.
No going back
While there are aspects of pre-COVID normality many of us wish to return to, such as seeing friends and loved ones, the pandemic has also given some time to re-examine ways of living and working. It has highlighted the value of the work of essential workers in health and social care, retail and transports. These groups deserve better pay and better employment conditions, including an end to casualisation and pseudo self-employment. Some workers would in future like a mix of working at home and in the workplace, subject to proper support for homeworking. Housing standards need to be revised so that all homes have space for homeworking and outside space. Trade unions should campaign for ways of working and living which are more sustainable both economically and environmentally.
Pay and pay equality
Before the pandemic hit UCU was campaigning vigorously over pay and pay equality matters. Union members had taken serious industrial action. Our claims for pay rises, ending the gender and race pay gaps, and winning job security for casualised staff were mobilising members. The issue of workloads too was a pressing concern for members, the subject of a victorious local dispute at Sheffield Hallam University. These issues have not gone away. UCU members want to see an end to intolerable workloads, an end to the rampant casualisation in post-16 education and improvements in pay and employment conditions. Union members need to take action on these issues and make progress on them.
Oppose any return to austerity
There is a danger – if and when the pandemic is brought under control – that governments will bring in cuts in welfare and freezes in public sector pay to pass the costs of the furlough scheme and other emergency measures on to the working class. They will also try to cut benefits for unemployed workers and cut pensions. We must oppose any attempts to make the working class pay for the pandemic. UCU needs to ally with other trade unions and campaign groups to resist austerity.
Build UCU democracy
Many UCU branches have held effective meetings over conferencing platforms. Congress 2021 must be a Congress which debates the full range of UCU business. UCU members need our democratic structures now more than ever. We must operate our democratic machinery to the full and use it to increase membership participation.