My Election Statement For VP of UCU

In the midst of a global pandemic, the climate crisis and the most progressive anti-racism movement in centuries, the trade union movement has an essential role to play. I am standing for the role of Vice President of UCU because I believe we need to adapt quickly within the current context to mobilise our membership for the many fights ahead.

Currently a National Negotiator in the 4 Fights dispute, I am one of four who consistently argued we should reject the offer. The offer does not end precarity or overwhelming workloads, nor does it address the race or gender pay-and-promotions gaps. Casualisation and increasing workloads are rife in all sectors, regions and nations. Our employers are using the pandemic as an excuse to implement their neo-liberal agenda.

Higher Education faces its biggest crisis as casualised members are hit first in response to the pandemic.  UCU needs a UK-wide campaign to defend each university, the breadth of provision, jobs, pensions and conditions.

Further Education faces reorganisation and a new funding model. Indications are of a restitution of state control but the detail is unspecified. UCU needs to mobilise from the ground to lead through these changes

In Prison Education tackling violence against members is a priority, as is health and safety, particularly ensuring safe staffing levels.

Adult Education has been blighted with 45% funding cuts since 2010. The second chance curriculum is being viciously cut and there is a crisis in Adult Education. Members there need more support.

Devolved Nations. Marketisation of HE persists in Scotland despite the lack of tuition fees in the chase for international student income. In Northern Ireland there are many challenges due to the political instability of an absence of government for three years. Implications of Brexit are complex and there is a mental health crisis among students. In Wales there are major issues with governance among other things. I commit to visiting the devolved nations, listening to members and ensuring their concerns are given full attention.

My Current Elected Roles

I am a Senior Lecturer in Learning Development at Bournemouth University. My work includes analysis of education policy, support for widening participation and researching transformative education and the neoliberal HE landscape.   I was first in my family to attend HE after completing an FE Access course as a mature student. 

I am currently elected to the roles of:

  • National Negotiator
  • Co- Chair, Bournemouth University UCU and Health and Safety officer.
  • Southern Region Chair
  • Disabled Members Standing Committee Member
  • Women Members Standing Committee Member – I support trans equality

I believe UCU should be a democratic, accountable, member-led union, committed to the vigorous defence of contractual conditions, courses and jobs.  I am the UCU Left candidate in this election.

A Brief History of My Activism

I left post-16 education in my second year of college and didn’t return until the late 90s when I came across an Access to HE course at my local college. I went on to complete a BSc as a mature, WP student. During that gap I was an active supporter and member of the Greenham Common Women’s peace camp and the wider peace movement. This was where I learned the power of collective activism and solidarity.

I joined the Labour party, left, rejoined and am hanging on. In the early 1980s I volunteered for Citizens Advice, specialising in ‘welfare’ and debt, advice. The Thatcher government’s welfare benefits system was cruel and brutal, it effects felt most keenly by women, disabled and BAME claimants. I learned then to challenge injustice through the system’s appeals process, acting as a McKenzie friend and advocate.

In the 90s I helped set up a local charity for homeless teenagers, and worked with young offenders. Reflecting on these, and other experiences of activism and local organising, it’s no surprise that I stood as a UCU rep soon after I took up a casualised post in HE.

My Union Record

I began as a branch rep for part time hourly paid casual staff, and then faculty rep, that very quickly segued into taking up the Equality Officer role. During my first and subsequent attendances at the women’s and equality I have pressed for policies to protect women in the workplace, and within UCU, from sexual harassment. It’s been a slow process, but in my experience dogged persistence pays off, we now have policies passed at Congress – which of course require implementation.

I was elected to the role of Vice Chair in 2012 (maybe – it’s all a blur), and over the past 4 or five years have Chaired, reverted to Vice Chair and am now Co-Chair of my branch. I have served as the elected Chair or the Southern Region Committee since 2018.

Over past 15 years I have attended so many training events I have lost count. I urge all activists to attend training whenever they can (you will be entitled to time off work). It was the UCU Health & Safety training I undertook that led me to think about ways that we, in our branch, could tackle workload exploitation locally. I have long argued that excessive workloads impact disproportionately on fractional staff and junior grades, more likely but not exclusively to be women. As well as pursuing local negotiations (slow and ongoing – but we won’t give up), as the Bournemouth University UCU delegate I took this motion to Congress 2019:

HE24  (EP) Challenging workloads: a national health and safety issue – Bournemouth University

Conference notes ever increasing, unmanageable workloads impacting on members’ health and safety. It calls on the HEC to evaluate the UCU health and safety workload campaign and update members on the progress of that campaign.

Conference notes that the deaths of Dr Malcolm Anderson (Cardiff University) and Professor Stefan Grimm (Imperial College) have been disregarded in the context of increasing workloads caused by redundancies, financial mismanagement and governance irregularities.

Conference resolves that UCU:

  1. identify the most egregious and exploitative employers
  2. seek legal opinion on the risk to university staff health, safety, and lifework balance with a view to taking collective action against particularly egregious employers
  3. continues to work to ensure balanced workloads.


Equal Pay

It is 50 years since the Equal Pay act . 50 years of fighting for equal pay.

My branch took industrial action in 2013, we had successfully claimed de facto derecognition. One of the outcomes of the dispute was the implementation of Equal Pay reviews. Shockingly the gender pay gap in my institution has hovered around 16% since the first review in 2015. This is not good enough, and we are challenging our Senior Management Team to address this shameful gap. Our employer has committed to ending this gap by 2025.

We won’t wait.

The VP election results

Thank you so much to all who voted for me in the Vice President election campaign. It was a hard fought, democratic campaign and members for the first time in a long time, had plenty of choice. I worked hard to arrange the majority of the hustings we attended, including the first ever Prison EducatorsContinue reading “The VP election results”

The risk of F2F Teaching and Casualisation

At a branch executive committee meeting yesterday, on behalf of Bournemouth University UCU the committee passed the following motions.  We will submit these motions to the upcoming Congress and Special Conference. Motion 1 speaks to the continued precarity of HE sector workers, and the abuse of casualised contracts, and the consequent damage to our sector.Continue reading “The risk of F2F Teaching and Casualisation”

At last advice from the UK Government on the re-opening of FE.

 Most FE colleges in England started physical on-site opening on 17th August, colleges are due to open their doors to workers and students on Monday 7th September.  The UK Government released SAGE backed advice on Saturday 5th September. This advice was long in coming, unfortunately short in substance and four months late. The new advice highlights: ·       that FEContinue reading “At last advice from the UK Government on the re-opening of FE.”

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