Endorsement from Ms Ghazal Vahidi, Steff Farley, Dr Steven Parfitt and Dr Thomas Swann, Loughborough University
From left to right: Ghazal Vahidi (doctoral researcher in Human Resource Management and Organisational Behaviour), Steff Farley (doctoral researcher in Mathematics), Steven Parfitt (Teaching Fellow in History), Thomas Swann (Early Career Fellow in Politics). All of us at Loughborough University.
Casualisation defines British universities and further education colleges today. As early career academics we all face the pressures and stresses caused by the low pay and insecurity that comes with casual work, and we all want to do something about it. Local branches are doing what they can to combat casualisation in their own workplaces, but we need a General Secretary who can more closely coordinate their work and make sure that all the good work they do is magnified and widely shared, not limited to isolated action at individual institutions. Jo has a proven commitment to playing that role. We believe she is the best candidate to make casualisation a central issue across UCU.
Equality is a crucial issue across HE and FE. Whether we consider equality in terms of the gender pay gap, a proper focus on the needs of BAME staff, or bringing LGBT+ issues to the fore, so much work remains to be done. As with campaigns against casualisation, the hard work of local branches needs more coordination and better support from the centre. Jo’s manifesto makes it clear that she puts equality in all forms at the heart of her vision for the union. We believe that as General Secretary, she can put that vision into action.
Not business as usual
Our union is changing. Since the 2018 USS strike, not to mention the other recent strikes and campaigns to defend staff across HE and FE, UCU is larger and stronger. These strike and campaigns energised a new layer of younger and not-so-younger activists who are eager to push back against decades of flatlining pay, casual labour and attacks on our pensions and jobs. Jo was in the forefront of these activists during the pensions dispute. She helped create USSbriefs, an invaluable source of information on the strike and on wider problems across HE and FE today.
Yet the dispute also raised concerns about the way our union is run. Jo is committed to implementing the recommendations of the Democracy Commission, which came out of those concerns, and to making sure that the hard work of activists and local branches is always reflected at a national level. We think that with Jo as General Secretary it will not be business as usual—because it is business as usual that has meant worsening pay, conditions and pensions.