Sally Hunt has resigned as general secretary of the University and College Union for health reasons.
In a message to UCU members on 25 February, Ms Hunt said that she would stand down as head of the union with immediate effect.
In her farewell message, Ms Hunt said that she was “grateful for the trust given to me as their general secretary and wish every UCU member and staff member well”. She added: “It has been a real honour. Thank you.”
Ms Hunt has led the UCU since its formation in 2007 and has won three elections as general secretary by the UCU membership, most recently in June 2017.
Prior to the formation of UCU, Sally had been general secretary since 2002 of one of its constituent unions, the Association of University Teachers.
However, her leadership faced considerable challenge in recent times. At last year’s UCU congress in Manchester, a no-confidence motion was tabled calling for “the resignation of Sally Hunt as general secretary with immediate effect” over her handling of pensions strike action earlier in the year.
The three-day event in June was eventually abandoned after repeated walkouts by Ms Hunt and senior UCU staff members, who claimed that the motion constituted an unacceptable breach of rules protecting employees’ dignity at work and an unconstitutional attempt to remove a democratically elected official.
In October, Ms Hunt announced that she was taking a break from the UCU after doctors warned her that the “very high” pressure of the past year risked worsening her multiple sclerosis.
Vicky Knight, the UCU’s president, said that the union “owes a huge debt of gratitude to Sally.” She added that Ms Hunt "was central to the creation of UCU and has led its growth and success with utter dedication to the interests of the members that we represent, and with an integrity that I know is widely acknowledged and admired throughout the movement and beyond. She has been one of the leading female union leaders of her generation and has inspired many others by her example."
In her message to members, Ms Hunt said that the UCU “is and will continue to be a great union; a reflection of its truly wonderful membership who contribute so much to the culture, politics and economy of this country”.