FIVE candidates will contest the election for general secretary of the lecturers' union Natfhe, writes Alan Thomson.
The five will fight a five-week campaign for the post which has remained vacant since John Akker's surprise early retirement on May 15 this year. The election result is expected to be announced on December 12.
The candidates for the post are Vicky Seddon, from Sheffield Hallam University; Paul Mackney, West Midlands Regional Official, Fawzi Abrahim, from North West London College, Andrea Kenneally of Southwark College, and Kate Heasman, from Arnold and Carlton College who was Natfhe president for 1996/97.
The applicants for the appointment represent a broad political spectrum. Mr Mackney, a moderate who was first off the mark with his election address, said that action was needed to tackle the union's Pounds 800,000 deficit that is projected for 1998.
Mr Mackney said: "Natfhe is special. But I think there is something wrong at the top. Natfhe's employees work very hard but not always at the right things. Many members and branch officers feel abandoned."
Mr Abrahim, standing on the left, agreed that the union faced a grim financial future. He criticised national policy on disputes, saying that the union ought to concentrate less on national negotiations and more on its traditional strength at branch level.
Ballot papers are expected to be issued to members of the union on November 10. The ballot will close on December 8.