Respect union democracy

May 23, 2013

The article “UCU Left’s call to go for growth decried as ‘gamble’ by opponents” (16 May) is correct to say that it will be delegates at the University and College Union’s congress who will determine the union’s financial strategy.

So it is disappointing that, after failing to persuade the majority of the national executive committee to adopt the UCU Left’s so-called alternative strategy during extensive debate within the committee over the past year, Tom Hickey, a member of the NEC, should choose to continue that debate in the media and outside the union’s democratic process.

Under the coalition government’s appalling programme of cuts, the UCU, like almost every other union, has seen its membership fall.

Our members depend on the union to be their voice and their defender. That is why the NEC has agreed a recovery plan that, by reducing costs while prioritising members’ services and recruitment, will ensure the UCU’s survival.

The stakes are high - too high for Hickey’s grandstanding. While the union strives to avoid compulsory redundancies, he seems determined to frighten our staff at this difficult time and to use them as a political football.

The only solution offered by the “alternative strategy” is to increase subscriptions by up to per cent for members who have not had a real- terms pay increase for four years and to suggest recruitment targets that Hickey himself must know are utterly impossible to meet.

We want our union to survive - not just for current members but for those who come afterwards. Despite what some seem to think, this is real life, not a political game, and our members and excellent staff deserve better.

Kathy Taylor (national president)
Alan Carr (honorary treasurer)
Simon Renton (president-elect, chair of higher education committee)
John McCormack (vice-president, chair of further education committee)
Terry Hoad (past president)

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