NEC elections 2023

UCU Left calls on members to vote for candidates who are committed to building the fights against the attacks faced by workers in Further, Higher and Prison Education. UCU Left candidates stand for strengthening democracy in our union, and for using the power of trade unions to fight for a more equal, sustainable and peaceful world.  

Please encourage your colleagues to use their vote. Democracy depends on participation and low votes give comfort to the employers. 

For a democratic, fighting union at the centre of a rising tide of struggle

UCU Left Candidates

Post Candidate
Vice President1Dr Maria Chondrogianni
Honorary Treasurer1Dr Deepa Govindarajan Driver
Midlands HE1
Rhiannon Lockley
Alan Barker
North West HE1
Saira Weiner
David Swanson
North West FE1Carol Cody
South HE1
Mark Abel
Dr Deepa Govindarajan Driver
Ryan Burns
South FE1Graeme Elliott
Honorary Secretary UCU Scotland1Carlo Morelli
UK-elected HE1
Marion Hersh
Roddy Slorach
Dr Richard Wild
Donna Brown
UK-elected members FE1
Sean Vernell
Saleem Rashid
Disabled members1Dr Marian Mayer
LGBT+ members1Bee Hughes
Black members1
Juliana Ojinnaka
Cynthia Akwei
Migrant members1
Dr Khizer Saeed
Omar Feraboli
Casually employed members1Sarah Lahm
Click on a candidate’s name to read their election statement

If you have unused preferences after voting for UCU Left candidates, we recommended using them for the following other candidates:

HE South – Aris Katzourakis
President UCU Scotland – Sarah Joss
Representative of Casually Employed Members – Sam Morecroft

For a democratic, fighting union at the centre of a rising tide of struggle

A rising tide of workers’ struggle

UCU’s industrial action in FE, HE and prisons is part of a growing wave of trade union struggle. The systematic attack on living standards and the attempt by the Tories to impose a new regime of austerity have sparked growing numbers of workers to fight back. Union after union are winning mandates for action in industrial action ballots. Strikes are at the top of the news bulletins. We in UCU are no longer fighting on our own. 

Their side is coordinated. It is clear that the Tories are working with employers to resist trade union demands. Government ministers refuse to meet our leaders, block the possibility of deals, plan even stricter anti-union laws, and prepare for the army to help break the strikes. They know that if one trade union breaks through they will not be able to hold the line with the rest. This is why we need coordination of our struggles, starting with joint action across HE and FE.. 

We in UCU need to push to synchronise our action with other unions as much as possible. So far we have struck alongside postal workers and some of the other HE unions. If we are to stop pay cuts and resist austerity, 2023 must be the year when we make ourselves part of a much bigger movement, striking with teachers and health workers as well as rail and postal workers. Anything less than inflation is a pay cut, and we must continue to fight against pay gaps, insecure contracts and unmanageable workloads . Enough Is Enough.

Members in control – for action that can win

Whether facing our employers in Further Education, Higher Education or prisons, we need action that can win. In FE, the reclassification of colleges as part of the public sector provides the opportunity to fight for a real national bargaining framework. In HE, we must learn the lessons of our own previous disputes and those of other unions. Long drawn out campaigns of single or even blocks of strike days are not effective against intransigent employers backed by government. We need harder-hitting, more sustained action.

Taking sustained action is not easy. It can only be achieved when members feel they have control over their own disputes. Members are not chess pieces to be deployed by the General Secretary. Action should not be called off for negotiations. It is members’ action that can deliver victory and it is they who are making sacrifices to take it. 

Union democracy is not just right in principle. It is the best way to maximise members’ unity in action and the only way to win. Members have a right to decide what action they take and what kind of deal will end the dispute. These decisions must be taken as a result of proper debate, not on the basis of survey questions written at Head Office. Decisions taken by our democratic bodies must be carried out, not declared ‘unimplementable’. The General Secretary is accountable, just like any other elected representative and must maintain UCU’s unity in the face of the employers.

Another Education is Possible

Our education institutions are increasingly becoming corporatised. They are now run by business people rather than educationalists. The courses they offer are increasingly instrumentalised – geared towards gaining qualifications for work to suit the needs of business. Freedom of expression and academic freedom are being curtailed as courses are closed for ‘market reasons’ and research is determined by ‘impact’ metrics. 

Our employers cite ‘enhancing student experience’ to justify their policies. But students do not benefit from any of this. Their horizons narrow as they are encouraged to view themselves as consumers of an off-the-shelf product, rather than as participants in their own self-development. Colleges should not be exam factories. The market and the student fee regime in higher education which drives commodified education must end. Our institutions must be taken back from unrepresentative boards of governors and returned to democratically accountable governance. 

Combating the threat from the right

The cost-of-living crisis is part of a growing crisis of legitimacy for the Tories, the bosses and their system, not just in Britain but across the world. The Tories respond to strikes with weapons of their own – ramping up their attacks on migrants and waging a ‘war on woke’ to seek to divide us. The threat from the right is real. Fascists exploit the demoralisation caused by recession and falling living standards: in Italy the political descendants of Mussolini are in office, in France Rassemblement Nationale continues to grow and in Germany a Nazi putsch had to be thwarted. In many countries women’s abortion rights and rights of LGBT+ people are under attack.  

Here, the Tories ridicule efforts to decolonise the curriculum and attack those speaking up for the Palestinians or trans rights. They want freedom of speech for bigots, but not for students protesting against inequality. We are committed to upholding and furthering UCU’s equality agenda on anti-racism, women’s rights and trans inclusion. We say refugees are welcome here.

World in crisis: climate emergency

Climate change is a trade union issue. Governments and corporations are doing virtually nothing to address the warming planet which is already claiming victims through floods, wildfires, storms and crop failures. COP27 was a dismal failure.

Universities proclaim their green credentials but pour vast quantities of concrete for their new buildings, offloading the CO2 emissions to the building contractors. Bosses will always put profits and competition ahead of meaningful action on climate change, so it falls to organised workers to take up the fight, press for disinvestment from fossil fuels, and join the students and young people demanding ‘system change not climate change’.  

Imperialist wars across the globe are causing massive human suffering, forcing people to flee and having a devastating impact on the environment. We oppose all governments and organisations, especially our own rulers, whose actions drive these conflicts.

Let 2023 be a year of hope and struggle.  It’s time to stand up for workers’ rights and human rights internationally.  UCU must be at the heart of these battles. It’s time for victories for working people.

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