Time for UCU debate?

February 2, 2007

Howard Moss (Letters, January 26) is quite right to urge members to vote in the forthcoming election for the general secretary of University and College Union. Nothing would be worse than a tiny vote.

I am afraid the rest of his claims, however, are a little short on evidence.

It is clear to me, having met many hundreds of UCU members in recent weeks, that the real issue in the election is not obscurantist politics but which candidate will actually do something about excessive workloads, bullying management and the squeeze on research and scholarly activity.

Members want to know which candidate is more likely to actually improve the lot of hourly paid and fixed-term staff and of academic-related staff facing downgrading.

Members want to know who will take practical steps to defend academic freedom and reassert collegial values in governance.

I have been told again and again that members want to know, for example, how we are going to learn from the shambolic end to the 2006 pay campaign, and how we are going to do better than we have so far in responding to the privatisation of university language centres.

Unlike some investments, past performance in trade union leaders is a pretty good guide to future performance. I expect that will be the key test for members.

If Moss would like some help, he should invite all three candidates to a Swansea UCUJelection hustings, I would be happy to debate these issues with him.

There is still time to invite us.

Roger Kline
Head of equality and employment rights, UCU

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