Independents dominate in UCU election results

Independent candidates have triumphed in the University and College Union elections by snapping up almost three-quarters of the contested places on its national executive committee.

March 6, 2012

Of the 37 places up for grabs, 26 have been taken by independent candidates, it has been announced.

A further three independent candidates were elected as union trustees, meaning 29 of general secretary Sally Hunt’s preferred candidates have been voted into office out of a possible 30.

The results mean the UCU Left has lost its majority on the NEC, where there are now 39 independents, 30 UCU Left members and three members with unknown political allegiances.

It follows the re-election of Ms Hunt in a run-off against UCU Left candidate Mark Campbell, a senior lecturer in computing at London Metropolitan University and a member of the Socialist Workers’ Party.

Ms Hunt won a landslide victory with 73 per cent of votes cast, it was announced on March 2.

The success of independent candidates is likely to be welcomed by Ms Hunt, who has sought to curb the influence of the union’s left wing, which includes several members of the SWP.

However, the UCU Left accused Ms Hunt of “red scare” tactics during the election process, saying the movement includes people of all political backgrounds.

The election of John McCormack, former UCU branch chair of Northumberland College, as vice-president from the further education sector means all the union’s officer positions are filled by independent candidates.

Commenting on the results, Ms Hunt, said: “I am really encouraged that UCU members voted for a democratic, independent union.

“It is especially welcoming to see lots of new faces on the executive.

“These results represent a real change for UCU and I will now be asking members for their views on a package of reforms that will put more power in their hands.”

Ms Hunt has pledged to reduce the size of the national executive and use the savings to improve services for members, such as legal representation.

She will also ask for lay national negotiators to be elected directly by members, rather than through conferences, and give members the chance to vote on any pay offer.

Members will receive ballot papers on the plans by email or post from 12 March and will have until 28 March to respond ahead of possible approval by the UCU congress in June.

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