The real fifth columnists

February 24, 2011

As members of the University and College Union coordinating committee at the University of Brighton, we take issue with your correspondent L. Roger Numas ("Our own worst enemy", Letters, 17 February).

Most of the committee members are not formal supporters of UCU Left; the elected officers represent an inclusive and diverse membership. All of us, however, support the principle of a democratic and member-led union, and the importance of recognising the political context of trade unionism in the 21st century. That is why we typically support the union policies advocated by UCU Left.

We recognise no "hypocrisy", "tyranny" or Machiavellianism in its action. Such claims are an insult to our colleagues who support the group. UCU Left is open about its policies and candidatures. Its supporters nationally, and certainly locally, are among the best activists, fighters and representatives that UCU members have defending their interests.

The campaign against UCU Left, whether witting or witless, is a smear campaign of the worst kind. It smacks of McCarthyism and does a disservice to democracy and the trade union movement. It focuses on internal issues at a time when we should be addressing the problem of preserving jobs, pensions and real incomes. It is the campaign, not UCU Left, that is undermining the union from within.

The suggestion that we should trade off our incomes and pensions against jobs presumes that such a trade-off is on offer. It is not - as the current spate of redundancies combined with pay cuts amply evidences.

Mark Abel, Ross Adamson, Cathy Bergin, Sheila Cullen, Mark Erickson, Deborah Gibberd, Sue Gollifer, Tom Hickey, Saeed Malekshahi, Vicky Margree, Ian Mcdonald, Patricia Mcmanus, Vy Rajapillai, Jenny Robertson, Jonathan Salvage, Peter Seddon, Andy Theodoulides, Jelena Timotijevic, Eric Tyrer and Judith Watson

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