Colleagues wishing some guidance in making sense of the motions, can find our recommendations here
Sector conferences elect a team of National Negotiators who argue our position with UCEA in the case of Higher Education, and with AOC in the case of Further Education.
It’s crucial that we have dependable, and hard working representatives of the union in these posts who can take our campaigns beyond the rhetoric, and who can represent our members and work strategically with our sectoral executive committees and full time officials to help achieve the best outcomes for UCU members.
We suggest colleagues vote for the following candidates – with a proven track record in campaigning for the union.
In HE, we ask you to vote for: Julia Charlton; Paul Errington and Joanna de Groot.
In FE we ask you to vote for: Rob Goodfellow, Dave Langcaster and Richard Bathgate
Below you’ll find some details of the candidates, and what they stand for:
Julia Charlton, currently NEC member, and member of Northumbria University branch. Julia’s message to delegates is:
“I have been a national pay negotiator of 2 years. I have been Branch Chair for 3 years (current) & vice chair for 2 years, acting branch secretary for 9 months, branch assistant secretary for 7 years, and so I have been involved in many successful negotiations with management. I have spent years negotiating with a group of executive committee members and university management where we achieved our preferred outcomes not theirs in the majority of cases, and have seen management at its worst and best. I have a placid and introspective temperament which I believe equips me well for the rôle of national negotiator for UCU. As a member of the NEC/HEC I am well informed about the issues of concern to the broader membership as well as my local branch and I am able to work collaboratively with others to achieve best outcomes”
Paul’s message to delegates is:
I have previously been involved at all levels of the pay bargaining process, local and national in heavy industry with the ASB union which amalgamated with the GMB. As a lead shop steward and negotiator I was instrumental in negotiating local and national bonus payments and other pay related enhancements. Through my union I undertook training in negotiation preparation gathering valuable information through consultation with members which assisted in many of our bargaining table approaches. I have been party to national negotiations up to and including ACAS conciliation/dispute resolution discussions. I also have had prior experience of negotiating local incremental pay increases and on call payments within the NHS public sector with realistic aims and goals. I have experience of developing strategies of action and tactics with other members of the negotiating team ensuring that everyone fully understands their pre-assigned roles and important aspect of any team approach to negotiations.
Joanna’s message to delegates:
I was a UK-level negotiator for UCU in 2011-13, and again since 2014, participating in pay bargaining and in pay related working parties involving fellow unions and management. Previously I was a UK- level negotiator for AUT. I have been a branch negotiator since the 1990s, dealing with the Framework Agreement, statutes and policies, equality issues and harassment, performance review, and grading and promotion issues, as well as casework. This gives me a range of experience, knowledge, and insight to bring to our pay negotiations, as do my varied contacts with members as a national officer of UCU. I am committed to using negotiating opportunities to their full potential to do the very best for members. I believe in maintaining active links between negotiators, elected bodies, and the membership as a whole in order to maximise our strength and effectiveness when we combine negotiation with campaigning .
Rob’s message to delegates is:
As previous Chair of FEC I was a national pay negotiator for two years and am well aware how the AoC conduct themselves. I will strive for the best deal possible on behalf of all FE members and ask for your support in this. As your outgoing national President I have fought hard on behalf of members and have considerable experience in negotiations at many local branches as well as nationally and internationally. If elected I will negotiate in consultation with members.
Secretary of Hull College Branch
Dave’s message to delegates is
I have been a National Negotiator for the last year, having been elected at Congress 2016. I am branch secretary at Hull College where I have negotiated successful resolutions to 2 major disputes since 2015 – in the first dispute, I led the negotiating team that got management to abandon a punitive, graded, zero-notice observation policy, and also persuaded them to honour a pay rise agreed in 2014. In the second, the negotiating team pushed management into agreeing to no compulsory redundancy for UCU members in the last round of redundancies. I also negotiate for individual members, with casework that includes negotiating settlements for resignation due to ill-health and redundancy. Currently negotiating to prevent detrimental changes to a redundancy policy
Richard’s message to delegates:
As a national further education negotiator and past member of the Durham Mechanics Association affiliated to the NUM, I know full well the importance of serious negotiation backed up by a campaign and industrial action as and when necessary. When taking up employment in the sector in 2004 I immediately joined the union and found myself embroiled in a bitter dispute with management implementing drastic contractual changes. As UCU branch chair I have been involved in negotiations at local level protecting members from constant attacks on terms and conditions. As regional FE chair/E.C. Vice Chair I see it increasingly important as we move further into attacks on trade unions and the very existence of comprehensive F.E.
I offer my experience and commitment as FE negotiator.
We think these recommendations would lead to useful policy that would strengthen the union over this coming year. But of course – we haven’t yet heard the debate – so like everyone else we’ll be listening to the arguments and voting accordingly!
Anyway – to find out our recommendations click this link here to take you to the page
UCU Agenda welcomes ‘thought pieces’ on different aspects of union strategy. If you have any points on this or other postings please let us know by dropping a line to email@example.com
David Ridley is a Lecturer in Media Theory at Coventry University and is also currently finishing his Ph.D in Sociology at the University of Birmingham. He is Branch Secretary of Coventry University UCU and has been involved in campaigns around casualisation, the use of subsidiary companies and most recently the civic responsibilities of post-92 universities. Here he puts a point of view about our current strategy following our most recent consultation on the pay offer from the employers. Recently his branch published a groundbreaking pamphlet on the situation in Coventry University and an alternative union view to management approaches. You can download it here.
An Alternative Industrial Strategy
On 19 May 2017 the results of the consultation on the 2017 pay offer were sent to branches across the UK. 65.6% of members want to accept the final offer of 1.7% and 55.5% would not be prepared to take part in industrial action after a sustained ‘Get The Vote Out’ campaign. 76.4% members do think, however, that UCU should hold a ballot on pay in Autumn 2017.
This indicates that members do not think that this is the right time to take action, and that 1.7%, still representing a real terms pay cut if inflation is taken into account, can be accepted in the short term so that energy can be focussed on addressing immediate problems members and branches are facing.
The Higher Education and Research Bill 2017 has now been passed. Not only does mean they introduction of the Teaching Excellence Framework, but also many more ‘alternative providers’ (i.e for-profit colleges and universities) which will now find it much easier to enter the new HE ‘market’ that the Tories have finally managed to create after 6 years.
We will now see constant restructuring of existing colleges and universities to meet the demands of this new market. In order to create a ‘level playing field’, new providers do not need to emulate existing institutions, often a complex mixture of research and teaching. For-profit HE will be radically stripped back, fast-track, teaching-only, union-free, focussed purely on the bottom line.
In response, senior management teams of existing institutions will want to drastically cut costs and rationalise production. This will mean mass redundancies, increasing casualisation, outsourcing, experiments with corporate form, and in some cases where management are particularly aggressive, de-recognition of trade unions, especially UCU.
This process has already begun, at Manchester Met, Leeds University, University of Manchester, University of Brighton, University of Warwick, Southampton Solent University and Sunderland University, the list goes on and continues to grow. Many post-92 universities have tried to get ahead of the game, like UCLan’s dodgy overseas partnerships and Coventry University’s Sports Direct-like employment practices.
The good news is that so far, local branches have been very successful in mobilising members and forcing management to back off, for now. More importantly, at a local level, branches have been meeting the new prohibitive criteria for legal industrial action established by the Trade Union Bill, also recently passed.
What this tells us, along with the results of the consultation, is that members are feeling the effects of marketisation, along with the uncertainty for Brexit, more than they are feeling the pinch of stagnating pay. This may change as the pound continues to be devalued in relation to the Euro and inflation outstrips wages. But on an affective level, marketisation is felt through increasing insecurity, inequality, workloads and bullying, all leading to stress and sickness.
But let’s be clear, members are prepared to fight. The war is happening on the front lines, and we must support branches in fighting marketisation in the trenches, so to speak. We must also build for future national action in the long term, but taking action now while the hearts and minds of members are focussed on local struggles will result once again in disappointing turnouts and a disappointing offer, while making the union look weak
Successful local actions build confidence in our members. Every successful local action builds the union as a whole. Successful recognition campaigns show that the union can move forward within marketisation, not just taking the defensive. Public campaigns against gender pay and casualisation, very painful for management (reputational damage) also driven by local successes, build awareness of marketisation and show our most vulnerable members we will fight for them.
‘UCU Left’ will try to convince you that we need to take action now, but the Independent Broad Left network are offering an alternative strategy. We are not accepting defeat by accepting the pay offer. We are walking away from a battle in order to win the war. We are being strategic rather than ideological and stubborn.
The plan that was suggested at the end of last year’s disappointing pay campaign was correct. Regionally coordinated local actions centred on inequality (gender and casualisation, but also BME, LGBT and disability), and increasingly redundancy, outsourcing and attacks on terms and conditions. We believe the unpredictability of and local strength behind this strategy contributed to the increased offer, so let’s talk what we can get and keep fighting.
If we want to take national action in a post HE Bill, Brexit and TU Bill world, the priority must be building participation and confidence in both branches and our membership. We can talk again about national action in the not so distant future when we can deliver.
Douglas Chalmers, candidate for Vice President in the current NEC elections gave a video interview for UCUAgenda on what he could deliver for the union if successfully elected.
In the video interview, a union colleague asks him his views on how our union can grow in the current difficult times, what his vision is for the union as a whole, where he stands on Brexit, whether F.E. is served well by the union, and where he positions himself politically. The interview lasts for just over 10 minutes.
Douglas would be happy to answer any questions on his views and can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
A leaflet outlining his views can be downloaded here
The independent broad left (IBL) is a network of like-minded UCU members who tend to have shared views on issues crucial to our union. We are firm in our belief that repeatedly calling for national strike action, regardless of circumstances or members’ views, is the wrong strategy, misleading and counterproductive.
UCU needs to act in the interests of all members – not just the few
In these uncertain times of national and international upheaval we need a leadership that continues to focus on members’ core concerns of professionalism and pay & conditions. We do not need a ‘UCU LEFT/ Socialist Workers Party’ backed leadership with a political agenda often set by external organisations, bent on empty militant posturing and a culture of blame
UCU needs a leadership with current, credible and relevant experience.
Vote Sally Hunt for UCU General Secretary
We believe that Sally is by far the best candidate for this crucial role, given her successful track record as UCU’s General Secretary, her professionalism and her commitment to national and international trade unionism. We agree with her intent to further develop and strengthen support for members and branches and to give members even more say in shaping union priorities. She will ensure elected committees have credible & deliverable plans for industrial action and make UCU more relevant to young staff – the next generation of members.
Vote Douglas Chalmers for UCU Vice President
Currently President of UCU Scotland with much active experience as branch officer, caseworker and national negotiator, Douglas speaks for us all when he says that most members [whether HE, FE, Adult Education or Prison Educators] want to be able to provide a good comprehensive education service and receive proper professional recognition and reward for doing it. Members need their union to prioritise protecting their jobs, their terms and conditions and not seek conflict for the sake of it.
Vote Steve Sangwine for UCU Treasurer
Based on his professional background in computer science and computational mathematics and his in-depth local and national UCU experience, we agree with Steve that, given the current political climate, UCU really needs a numerate treasurer, who is experienced in complex legal and financial matters and can ‘hit the ground running’
Vote for a member-led leadership
IBL believes that members deserve better than being told what they should, could or must think. Leadership is about making decisions through listening and consulting with all members.
ALL members from ALL sectors are entitled to vote for the above 3 candidates – PLEASE USE YOUR VOTE
IBL also suggests you support the following candidates:
Trustees: Randy Banks; Alastair Hunter; Philip Burgess
UK Elected HE: Julie Charlton, Michael McKrell; Dominique Lauterburg
UK Elected FE: Anya Cook
Representative LGBT: Ryan Prout
Midlands HE: David Ridley; Justin Mercer
Midlands FE: Simon Bruce-Jones; John Sullivan
North East FE (By-election): Richard Bathgate
Southern HE: Pauline Collins, Denis Nicole
For further information, contact: IBLcontactaddress@gmail.com
To download the above information in leaflet form: click here
The HEC at its last meeting took a decision to pause industrial action and conduct an indicative ballot of HE members on the way forward. Here are some points from the Independent Broad Left Network regarding the next stage in the battle to achieve better pay, close the gender pay gap and end casualisation.
It would be easy but mistaken to see the decision taken by HEC on 14 October to pause industrial action on the 2016 pay offer while conducting an indicative ballot of HE members as a retreat. Looking at the achievements and difficulties of our pay dispute, and at the political and economic situation in which we have to go forward, HEC has chosen to move to decisions about next steps which will be informed by the judgement of the people who will actually have to implement them about what will achieve the most for us all.
Making tough choices
We are proud of what members have already put into the dispute, and confident that they will give serious and intelligent consideration to the risks and possibilities of seriously sustained industrial action this autumn. There is wide agreement that we have had an unsatisfactory offer from the employers, and that there is considerable appetite for continued campaigning on the gender pay gap and on casualisation issues, but real uncertainty as to whether industrial action at this particular moment will produce positive results. The HEC recognised that in considering the direction of the current dispute, members needed to be clear that any future pay campaign would be conducted under the new ballot threshold imposed by the Trade Union Act. Tackling pay erosion in future may be much more challenging, with early career colleagues especially likely to suffer the consequences in the medium to long term
As experienced activists we all understand that industrial action is a means to achieve change, not an end in itself, and that we owe it to ourselves to assess its possible dangers as well as its possible opportunities. Successful action is based on strong support and participation, and on confidence that there are reasonable prospects for the action. Since ‘the union’ is no more or less than all of us, it makes sense to involve all of us in building that support and confidence
Fighting smart and fighting strong
In taking the decision to hold a consultative ballot HEC is working constructively with members by asking them to make an informed judgement about how best we can all work together to make progress in very difficult circumstances. We are not retreating, but strengthening the trust, good sense, and ability to deal with tough situations, on which the effectiveness of union campaigns always depends.
Colleagues who have comments on this can get in touch and let us know your views by contacting: email@example.com
Rob Goodfellow, a lecturer at Hull College was recently elected as President of UCU for 2016 – 2017.
Between spots at the rostrum of this year’s TUC, where he presented UCU’s view on post 16 education he took some time out to talk about his views on all things UCU. Interview by Scottish UCU President and NEC member Douglas Chalmers, and thanks to Julia Charlton for helping with the filming.
“We’ve made an impact at the TUC – everyone who wanted to speak on a motion did so. If we hadn’t been here….. less people would have been ‘educated’ ”.
This view of Rob Goodfellow, half in jest, encapsulated the feeling of the UCU delegates to the TUC in Brighton this year. Speaking on a whole range of issues from Post-16 Education, the European Union, Professional Status, to Challenging the Politics of Hate, our delegation made a very positive impact both from the rostrum and in our networking between times.
NEC member Julia Charlton spoke on immigration, HE Vice President elect Joanna de Groot spoke on the European Union, Vicki Knight, VP spoke on Prison Education, NEC member Pauline Collins spoke on the need for people to work smarter, not just longer, and Vicky Blake from the UCU’s anti-casualisation committee, asked a question about the TUC’s work on casualization and Douglas Chalmers moved a successful emergency motion on Colombia.
Between appearances at the rostrum, Rob took some time out to give his views on a range of issues UCU will encounter under his presidency (Interview 12 mins long).
In England, for H.E, a priority for the union had to be the White Paper – which allowed private providers to operate a ‘smash and grab’ – taking profits and disappearing, leaving taxpayers to clear up the mess and help students affected.
In F.E, the area reviews were essentially just a means to save money “but it’s a paltry sum, but will have a huge impact on staff, on students and on the local communities”
A key question that post 16 education had to answer was “how far a distance would be travelled by a student and their families” while on their educational journey – “that’s not measured in league tables”
In terms of his own role, Rob saw the President’s job to be to safeguard the democracy of the union, while the union had to take some pragmatic choices.
In terms of the ‘culture’ of the union – making Congress better in terms of its own culture and practice? “I want branches to see what’s in it for them – get them engaged by sending resolutions and delegates. If it’s a case of two blocs voting I don’t want that anymore than anyone else does”…
The determination of our union to fight against the Green Paper/ White Paper/Bill has already been shown at several fringes during congress, and 13 of our motions today in the HE Sector conference will look at how best to oppose this, and ultimately defeat it.
There are clearly some good motions here which will take the fight forward by developing the understanding of our members, students and the wider communities, and clearly there is everything to play for. However we suggest that there are a couple of points that conference should be wary of endorsing as they lack the specific details needed for a successful fightback – we give our suggestions in Broadcast.
It is to be expected that not everyone will agree on the strategy and tactics necessary to successfully win a substantial pay increase, and this disagreement shows in the resolutions tabled.
Members need to be congratulated however for what they have done so far, and given every encouragement to engage in tougher and sustained activity and sanctions, should they prove necessary.
However, what is most important is that Conference comes out of this debate with a united policy to take to both the employers and members. Statements which demean in members’ eyes the leadership of the HEC and the negotiators, and the action that members are already taking, actually undermine the union’s ability to pursue the dispute successfully.
Today’s opinion piece in HE Sector Broadcast – on Health Educators is by Paul Errington a Health Educator himself at Teeside and an incoming member of the NEC.
Turning to the FE conference it is clear that the high quality motions on many of the issues from the 2015/16 pay claim, through the blight of the gender pay gap – and the absence of equality monitoring on to the devastating effect of the area reviews, the cuts to ESOL, the Prevent agenda, and the de-professionalisation of the lecturer’s role, all show that our members are active and concerned on these key issues affecting the sector. It promises to be a high quality debate on these questions. The pay issue is one where differing opinions on the way forward exist. We suggest that calling for ‘national’ strike action on the question of ‘pay’ over and over again is however, the wrong strategy – it’s misleading and counterproductive. There is a way to organise, build and support confident, campaigning and unified branches and FE Sector Broadcast suggests some ways we can achieve this.
Elsewhere in each Sector Broadcast you’ll find the Independent Broad Left Network’s general take on some of the other key issues Congress looks at today. As a network, we don’t have a ‘party line’ on policy, and unlike Monty Python neither are we looking for the Holy Grail. So let us know what you think – e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Monty Python had it right
….. “Are you the Judean People’s Front? ###k off – we’re the People’s Front of Judea”
Well we’re the Independent Broad Left Network in UCU and as well as some good ideas for the union, we’ve also got a sense of humour. Why not come along, have a drink, in one of Liverpool’s most historic pubs, find out more, and let us know what you think?
Hope to see you there!