I’m a foundation year lecturer (Health, Education and Life Sciences) and doctoral student at BCU. I’m the only West Midlands candidate in 6, standing for one of three Midlands seats on UCU NEC. I’m asking for your vote for:
1) A democratic, member-led union
As a UCU left candidate, I support a member-led union with an active rather than service model of union work. As branch secretary at BCU (2019 – present), I’m proud of what we’ve achieved in challenging times:
· 25% increase in branch membership
· 1 extra week of holiday negotiated
· Beating the anti-TU legislation to win our ballot for industrial action on Covid safety
Our successes demonstrate we’re most effective when we keep the branch up-to-date on and involved in the work we do, meet frequently, and always put decisions in the hands of members.
2) Equality at the heart of UCU, and defending dissent
I’m proud to have helped shape UCU policy on trans rights, sex worker solidarity, defending abortion rights, defending migrants, resisting racism, and fighting barriers to accessing or working in education.
I will always support equality work as central to our union.
As well as the challenges COVID brings, we face a critical period in defending dissent. While the growth this year of BLM and other anti-racist groups is inspirational, the victimisation of Gargi Bhattacharyya is another move to silence critical (often Black) voices in education. It sits alongside the Tory push (building on Prevent) to stamp out critique in the classroom, which requires urgent action from UCU.
As your representative I will defend the voices of our officers, our members and our students.
3) A strong Midlands voice on NEC, for all members
I’ve had the privilege of chairing West Midlands region (2014-17) and representing Midlands FE members on NEC (2017-19). Regional structures are key to building UCU, whether providing space for reps to share and strategise, or giving a practical and immediate solidarity network to branches in dispute. As a Midlands NEC rep I will once more:
· Report on national meetings to all branches and to regional committees: scrutiny of and space to feed into decisions are essential for democracy
· Work with branches and the regional committees to promote and support campaigns and disputes, and grow solidarity between branches and the wider labour movement
UCU should be proud of all we do to fight for education. We must always remember the union belongs to all members. As a former FE worker I will remind NEC we speak for Academic Related and Professional Services staff, post-92, FE, ACE and prison educators as well as pre-92 academic members.
I’m honoured on the basis of my regional work to be endorsed by representatives from sister unions including the FBU, NEU and Unite, students, and UCU members across our sectors: we’re strongest together.
Please give your second preference for Midlands HE to Alan Barker, University of Nottingham. Alan has a proven record in defending the democracy of our union, defending the right of branches to bring motions ruled in order to congress in 2018 when he chaired congress business committee. He will always support a member-led union.
If you are an FE Midlands member, please support Dharminder Chuhan (Sandwell College). Dom, who is West Midlands UCU Black Members rep is an excellent organiser – the successes at Sandwell are in part driven by his meticulousness in canvassing and speaking to members, and his principles in always being led by the branch as an officer.
Whoever you vote for, make sure you vote!
Twitter: @illdoitanyway Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Rhiannon4NEC