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UCU HE Sector Conference 2014 – Fighting on Pay – The Way Forward

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A brief analysis of the NEC Election Results.

Firstly, it is worth pointing out that yet again the biggest issue in these elections is the very small turnout: In HE seats around 13-14%; in FE seats around 10-12%. This should be a worry to all UCU activists regardless of any particular faction they may, or may not, support.

Secondly, In terms of votes cast, the result is better (percentage wise) for the left than the respectable 27% vote gained in the General Secretary election.

The left gained approximately a third of the NEC seats contested. However, it would be a mistake to assume gaining a third of the seats directly translated to only a third of the vote within each constituency.

The only way to really gauge percentage vote in an STV multi-seat vote, is to count all the 1st prefs across candidates. Using that accurate measure we observe the following:

Vice President FE
McConnell (UCU Left supported): 6142/12605 = 48.7%
McCormack (Hunt supported): 6463/12605 = 51.3%

North East HE
UCU Left supported candidates: 736/1386 = 53%
Hunt’s list: 650/1386 = 47%

North East FE
UCU Left supported candidates: 253/681 = 37%
Hunt’s list: 428/681 = 63%

London and East HE
UCU Left supported candidates: 819/1872 = 44%
Hunt’s list: 1053/1872 = 56%

London and East FE
UCU Left supported candidates: 584/860 = 68%
Hunt’s list: 276/860 = 32%

North West FE
UCU Left supported candidates: 213/465 = 46%
Hunt’s list: 252/465 = 54%

UCU Wales Vice-President HE
UCU Left supported candidate: 202/509 = 40%
Hunt’s list: 307/509 = 60%

Northern Ireland HE
UCU Left supported candidate: 92/275 = 33.5%
Hunt’s list: 183/275 = 66.5%

Where the left vote was somewhat weaker was in the multi-seat UK-wide elected seats. However, even in those seats the left vote ranged on average between 20-30%.

This is not that surprising. In the middle of an internal red-baiting campaign voters will: 1) get turned-off and not vote (the significant majority unfortunately); 2) succumb to the lies and vote against the supposed ‘baddies’; 3) vote for candidates they have direct local experience of and trust despite any ad-hominem attacks made upon them.

What these results ultimately show is that the left has a solid base of support within UCU – despite the red-baiting, from which to build a strong defence of our union against both external, and unfortunately, internal, threats to our members interests.

We now have two priorities in the next couple of weeks:

Firstly, and most importantly, we need to go all out to win our TPS members to vote YES to reject the ‘final offer’, and YES to taking further strike action (starting on March 28) with the NUT, PCS, EIS, and others.

Secondly, in any members ballot on a reduction to the UCU NEC, we will need to argue to maintain a fully democratic and accountable NEC that serves all the union’s multiple constituencies equally and fairly. That will mean voting against any proposals that reduces lay member control of our union.

After the UCU Election: The Fight to Defend Education Continues

I would like to thank all the UCU members who supported my campaign to ensure that we put a principled defence of education at the top of our agenda, and to ensure we take the resolute action necessary to resist course, job, pay, and pension cuts.

I will continue to fight for the best interests of our members and the students that we support. To that end, I shall be actively campaigning to ensure we deliver a solid vote to reject the government’s pension cutbacks and to take strike action alongside our colleagues in the NUT, PCS, EIS, and others on March 28th. In addition, I will continue to push for solidarity with our students, and as such, campaign in support of the NUS week of action in March.

I will also continue to campaign to defend our members at London Met who yet again face the consequences of government attacks on public education and an authoritarian and strategically incompetent local management.

The election may be over, but the far greater, and far more important, fight to protect public education is only just starting. We now have to unite as a union and all need to start focussing our fire on the true enemies of our union, not on each other.

Vote YES to Defend Pensions

Just watched this video of my speech from the June 30th strike rally in London, and I stand by every word – unlike some others who spoke on the day!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uHRtz0qdDU&sns=em

Let’s build for a strong YES vote in the TPS consultation and ensure we re-start the fightback with successful joint union strike action on March 28th!

In Defence of Prison Educators

A genuine commitment to the rehabilitation of offenders is an important indicator of the level of civilization in a society. Commitment to the rehabilitation of offenders must include proper investment in prison education. Education can provide ex-offenders with the key to a better life and legitimate opportunities for income and success. Too many of the UK’s prison inmates lack basic education, such as literacy and computer skills. If they are to have a chance of avoiding a return to crime on release from prison and if society is to be a safer place with less crime, we need more investment in prison education.

I have the highest respect for UCU members who work in prison education. They do a challenging job in difficult circumstances. What makes me angry is the way they are being treated as employees. In addition to some of the unavoidable stresses of their work, they bear the unnecessary stress of constant insecurity surrounding their employment conditions. The current system of tendering for prison education means that lecturers in prison education experience regular changes in their employment. Sometimes these changes in employer include attempts to bring in worse pay rates and conditions of service. Sometimes people experience a change of employer every year. This is an insult to UCU members who perform a valuable public service. Moreover it shows how private providers can enter what should be part of the Further and Adult Education sector.

We can see the threat to prison education from recent developments in prison education in London. Monday 21st February saw the release of new providers and Kensington and Chelsea College was not chosen. Instead London prison education has been given to A4E. This company has recently been in the news for workfare fraud and its majority shareholder, Emma Harrison, has earned herself £8m in bonuses. Emma Harrison is also Cameron’s ‘tsar’ for getting people back to work. Basically this organisation is a training agency and will reduce teachers to the status of instructors. Their contracts of employment are far worse than FE colleges, they are anti-union, they pay spot salaries and of course the TPS does not recognise them. This means that prison educators in London are at risk of being removed from TPS and put onto some inferior defined contribution pension scheme. UCU NEC member and prison educator Keith Mallinson warned of this danger at the last special NEC meeting on pensions.

Surely our prison educators deserve a better deal. If elected as General Secretary, I will work hard to ensure that UCU campaigns against the privatisation of prison education and defends the jobs, pay, pensions and working conditions of our prison educator members.

General Secretary Candidate – All Members Email – 15 Feb 2012

Dear colleagues,

March 28th Strike Action

UCU is again part of a growing coalition of trade unions resisting the Government’s attack on pensions.

It has taken significant effort to get the pensions campaign back on track. UCU has played its full part in that process.

Firstly, our National Executive Committee (NEC) rejected the so-called ‘final offer’, and then argued the necessity of taking further action before the imposition of increased members’ contributions in April. Now, we have unanimously agreed to reschedule our union’s earlier planned strike action to March 28th in order to coordinate action with that of the NUT and PCS.

UCU will soon launch a campaign to reinforce support for this position. This will include briefings for members, along with branch and regional meetings. It will be followed with an e-survey of TPS members.

UCU shares the position of our sister unions, that a statutory ballot is unnecessary as the Heads of Agreement (HoA) contains no significant improvement on the issues over which we originally balloted: working longer, paying more and getting less.

Please complete the e-survey, and support the rejection of the HoA, and action on March 28th.

Strike action is a last resort. We would be negligent, however, if we failed to resist this attack. Our ability to defend our pensions is inextricably linked to the defence of public education. If we defend our pensions successfully, UCU will be in a stronger position to stop the wider attack on post-16 education.

Although members in USS are not currently part of this action, I’m confident all will give maximum solidarity. A victory in TPS will be a victory for all members in USS, since USS negotiations are inextricably linked to the outcome achieved in TPS.

Casualisation

The marketisation of Further and Higher Education is casualising our profession.

Hourly-paid contracts are an issue for all of us. Colleagues working alongside one another are being paid thousands of pounds less to do the same work. This is extremely divisive.

Every member of staff should be treated equally. That means putting UCU’s weight behind securing all members genuine full-time or proportional contracts, and consigning to the dustbin the appalling so-called ‘zero-hour’ contract.

We need a united union

Our battles over pensions, jobs and pay are part of a wider defence of education and its role in society.

To succeed, our union relies on its growing number of dedicated activists and elected officers. These are the people who find time, amid all the pressures of work, to represent members in individual casework, to defend them against unfair dismissal, discrimination, bullying and harassment, and to be constantly vigilant to keep the management of our institutions accountable.

I welcome the engagement and sacrifice of the thousands of such individuals who make this union tick, whatever their political views. Together we are stronger. This means resisting any attempt to divide us.

General Secretaries are only as effective as the unions they lead: if we are to be strong enough to confront these unprecedented attacks on education we must resist all attempts, from whatever quarter, to sow division within our own ranks.

NEC Elections

Whatever the outcome of the General Secretary election our union needs a combative and representative leadership for the months and years to come. That means bringing more young activists and women onto our leading bodies.

We need effective leadership. That is why I am asking for your support. Thankfully, the leadership of UCU is not the property of the General Secretary alone. All sections of our union should be properly represented in our branches, at our Congress, and on our NEC.

The NEC is a lay member body. That means those we elect are working UCU members, not paid UCU employees. This ensures that policy decisions are democratically taken, as well as being effectively carried out.

In the current NEC elections, I recommend the following colleagues:
https://ucumarkcampbell.wordpress.com/2012/02/12/ucu-nec-candidates-that-im-supporting

Important Choices

UCU is at a critical juncture. We are faced with a simple question. Do we help manage the decline of post-16 education, or do we fight to preserve and develop it?

I am grateful for all the support I have received during this campaign. Whether you vote for me or not, I urge all colleagues to get involved in our union, at whatever level. Everybody has a role to play. The stronger we are as a union, working together, the greater our ability to defend education.

Best wishes

Mark Campbell
ucumarkcampbell.wordpress.com

UCU NEC unanimously agree to join with NUT and PCS in strike action on March 28th

To clarify, below is what was decided at the UCU National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting on Feb 10th in regards to the Teachers Pension Scheme (TPS) dispute:

——–

The UCU NEC unanimously agreed to join with our sister trade union the NUT, and the PCS, and therefore to re-schedule our previously agreed date for national strike action from March 1st to March 28th in line with the unanimous decision of their NECs.

We unanimously agreed to conduct a campaigning consultative e-survey of members – as are the NUT and PCS, with a very strong recommendation to agree with the NEC’s decision to reject the Heads of Agreement (HoA) – the so-called ‘final offer’, and to move to further coordinated strike action with our trade union colleagues in other unions.

The NEC agreed we had no need to re-ballot our members with regards to taking industrial action.

Such a statutory industrial action ballot, as a few had previously suggested we conduct, would have involved formal membership checks, and notifying the employers of our balloting timetable, categories and numbers of members at each work site, etc, etc – as happened in the USS re-ballot. NEC agreed that such a ballot was not required as we already have sufficient legal mandate for further strike action.

Instead what the NEC has now unanimously agreed is an internal e-survey to see if our members agree with the NEC position that we reject the HoA and agree to take further strike action commencing with a day’s strike on March 28th.

It was agreed that the members e-survey will commence following a significant national campaign across all TPS branches arguing why members should reject the HoA and the necessity of taking further industrial action in order to defend their pensions. Therefore, branch officers should expect to receive appropriate campaign material shortly.

As part of that campaign we will argue that the HoA did not indicate a ‘significant change’ to the earlier ‘final offer’, and as such is totally unacceptable to us given that our members are still expected to work longer, pay more, and get less.

When, as we believe they will, members indicate they agree with our position, we will be in a position to submit notice to our employers – on the basis of our existing, and live, industrial action ballot, that we intend to strike on March 28th alongside the NUT, and PCS, and possibly other unions, such as sections of Unite, the FBU, and others.

——-

My Election Address and Biographical Details

Biographical details

Chair of the UCU Coordinating Committee, London Metropolitan University, where I work as a Senior Lecturer in Computing, I am a member of the National Executive Committee (NEC) and Higher Education Committee (HEC). I have served on the Recruitment, Organisation, and Campaigns Committee (ROCC) for the last four years. I represented UCU at the TUC Congress for the past three years. Prior to joining the NEC, I was elected HE Secretary for London Region UCU. I’m currently UCU London Region Rep on the South East and Eastern Regional TUC (SERTUC), and Vice-Chair of its Public Services Committee.

As a member of the UCU Co-ordinating Committee at London Met for the last ten years, I have been in the forefront of our fight to defend jobs and courses, and played a significant role in our successful 18-month contract dispute, and our equally successful union recognition dispute. I have played a prominent role on the NEC in defence of pensions, pay and members’ conditions.

An active and committed trade unionist all my working life, I joined NATFHE in 1997 whilst hourly paid at the University of East London. Previously, I was branch secretary and national conference delegate for MSF (Unite) and BIFU (UNIFI). I am a founder member of UCU Left.

If elected, I pledge to draw only the salary of my current position at London Met, plus any increases we win for our members. The remainder of the General Secretary salary I will donate to the union’s strike fund.

Election address

Clear leadership for difficult times

I am asking you to elect me as your new General Secretary. This election takes place against the backdrop of the greatest assault on our living standards and public services that we have faced in generations. Our resolve to protect public education provision and fair access must be at the heart of the union’s objectives. Last November’s historic public sector general strike showed us all what it is possible in organising our collective resistance.

Direct experience

A lecturer for the last fifteen years, I share your experience of the erosion of academic freedom and professional autonomy. Like you, I have seen pedagogy replaced by pedantry, academic value lose out to corporate expediency, and collegial leadership overturned by management diktat. I know what it is like to be hourly-paid and in insecure employment, to be targeted for compulsory redundancy, and to help keep a local union branch going in the face of an employer’s offensive. I also know through direct experience what it takes to win such battles.

Threats to the sectors, and a strategy to meet them

You will recognise many of the main problems facing us:

  • achieving fair funding – opposing the HE White Paper, fee policy and privatisation threat, resisting similar threats in the devolved nations;
  • protecting Adult Education, defending ESOL provision, restoring the Educational Maintenance Allowance;
    defending academic values, opposing education ‘for profit’, promoting working class access;
  • defending pensions and resisting real terms pay cuts across FE and HE;
  • defending jobs, reducing workloads, and resisting an ‘audit culture’;
  • ensuring employers deliver genuine equality for women, black members and other groups facing discrimination;
  • replacing the discredited Institute for Learning (IfL) with a voluntary member-led body;
  • acting on casual contracts and defending our most vulnerable members – Hourly Paid Lecturers, Graduate Teaching Assistants, junior researchers;
  • reforming governance – we are educational institutions, not businesses.

Unfortunately, listing these problems does not solve them. We can and should, lobby Government and employers on these issues. Alone, such lobbying will not deliver the fundamental changes we require. We need to look to our organising and industrial strength to ensure that our voices are heard.

The assault on post-16 education requires a UK-wide collective response. Public education is being dismantled before our eyes. We need to focus our union’s energy on halting that process.

A strong, democratic union

Tutors, lecturers, researchers and related staff, the UCU is an organisation of educationalists for whom the defence of scholarly integrity, academic freedom, and publicly funded institutions, is not separate from pay, pensions and conditions. All are related, and are being forced together by the Government’s assault on them. In this, the struggle to defend pensions, pay and conditions is central to the defence of the public character of our colleges and universities. It would be a strategic mistake to treat them as distinct battles, and would divide the UCU from others in the movement, and one section of the union from another.

For example, employers must not be allowed to plead poverty when it comes to promoting Equality and ensuring equal rights at work for members of minority groups. Equality issues must be part of our industrial relations strategy, and not perceived as peripheral concerns.

UCU needs to play to its strengths – its democratic and representative structure, rooted in its branches. UCU is an organisation of engaged and reflective members who are willing to defend the education system in which we chose to make our careers. If we keep our primary focus on tackling the day-to-day problems that members face in the workplace we can build a united and effective union.

We need well-organised branches, and well-trained officers. We cannot meet the demands of designing an effective defence without debating our priorities. We need policies in which all members can invest. We need as many members as possible involved via the union’s democratic structures – from local branch activity to attending regional committees, Congress, and our HE and FE Sector Conferences.

Our National Executive Committee must reflect all of the union’s constituencies, and have procedures that prevent the dominance of any at the expense of others. Every argument about organisation is an argument about what the UCU is for, and about the imagination and willingness to resist what faces us.

I am standing for General Secretary because I believe we can fight back, and we can win. I also believe it important for your General Secretary to share the income level of the members that he or she represents. I am committed, if elected, only to drawing a salary that is equivalent to my current lecturer’s income.

An alternative vision

The Government’s austerity programme seeks to impose the market on every aspect of society. Yet the market has a proven record of failure, in both the public and private sectors. The great institutions of education, health and welfare feature foremost in this agenda of privatisation. This will take us backwards, and those hardest hit will be women, the disabled, black and minority communities, the young and the old. Society as a whole will be impoverished.

Education liberates the individual, providing the tools to help us understand the world around us. Free and open access to Further, Adult and Higher Education is essential for the development of a civilized and cultivated society, and a more equal one.

In the past year we have seen some of the greatest social and political movements in a generation. People across the world have been standing up for what they believe in, not simply resisting what they are against. We should do likewise.

In post-16 education in the UK, we face unprecedented dangers that will require all our resourcefulness and resilience. A vote for me is a vote to build a union that can meet these difficulties, a union that is representative of all the diversity, talent and strength of our workforce.

For further details of my programme see my election blog https://ucumarkcampbell.wordpress.com

Joint union strike action in March to defend our pensions

Dear colleagues,

As a result of talks with other ‘rejectionist’ unions – following the initiative taken at the last UCU National Executive Committee (NEC), our colleagues in the NUT, the Scottish, Irish, and Welsh teaching unions, and the PCS, look set to shortly announce an agreed coordinated strike date in late March.

I will therefore be arguing at Friday’s (10th Feb) UCU NEC that we now formally re-schedule our proposed strike date from March 1st to this agreed date in order to maximise co-ordinated action with our sister unions.

This is later than many members would have liked, given the proximity of the April 1st increased pension contributions imposition, but it does allow us to realise our wish to take coordinated action with sister teaching unions, and also provides us with more time for the union to provide branches with necessary campaign materials and any additional support that some branches may require to help address their organisational readiness for action.

Also, in line with our previous decision to consult branch members, we should consider issuing a similar all members email survey to the one recently issued by the NUT to win support for their rejection of the Heads of Agreement (HoA).

That survey has resulted in a 93% vote confirming support for rejection of the HoA, and as significantly, re-emphasised their members desire to resist a retirement age of 68, 50% increases in contributions, and a 15-20% reduction in pensions in payment by a shift from RPI to CPI.

Now is the time for all of us in UCU to join together and defend our members pensions. A position whole heartedly endorsed by UCU Regional committee delegate meetings this last weekend.

Best wishes

Mark Campbell

Max Watson: Why I’m supporting Mark Campbell for UCU Gen Sec

This is a guest post from Max Watson, UNISON NEC, and London Met UNISON Branch Chair. Reblogged from here.

I’m supporting Mark Campbell for UCU Gen Sec, for unity in action. At London Met Uni we’ve had to take robust stand against job cuts and privatisation – including coordinated strike action in 2009 and again in June 2011.

Watch short clip below from our most recent strike – Mark Campbell lead his union branch out on strike against job cuts at London Met that were predominantly support staff jobs represented by us in UNISON. As a result of our united action we doubled the redundancy pay, and significantly reduced the number of compulsory redundancies.

I fully back Mark’s campaign and look forward to working with him as General Secretary of a fighting, democratic UCU. United we stand, divided we fall.

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