Boycott Leicester

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Mike Barton (London retired members' branch)

Election address

I retired in 2019 having taught as a Business Studies lecturer and more recently as a Computing lecturer.

I worked for six years at City and Islington College on a Variable Hours Contract. On two occasions a manager attempted to give me fewer hours than the contract specified. On both occasions, I was represented by the casualised rep and my hours were increased. I later became a casualised rep and served on the Anti Casualisation Committee for two years.

I was a member of NATFHE then UCU since its inception. In previous work, I have been a member of the UPW, TGWU, AUEW, MU, GPMU & Amicus. For several years, I was the assistant secretary of Waltham Forest Trades Council.

While working as a full-time Computing Lecturer at North West Kent College, there was a national dispute when the Institute for Learning attempted to impose the costs of a professional fee on lecturers. Our union organised a successful boycott. This experience made me aware of the importance of grassroots trade union organisation.

In 2013 I started a new job at Redbridge College. The union was dormant and I took on the role of branch secretary. Many staff suggested that the principal would victimise staff who attempted to organise. We managed to get a small but keen group of members together for branch meetings but were then derecognised. After a merger with two colleges with strong union branches, we achieved a recognition agreement. In 2017 we joined the strike for better pay. The branch was offered a deal which would raise academic salaries to the same level as other (better paid) colleges. This offer was refused until management also agreed to negotiate on academic support contracts.

Both with the IFL and with the strike at New City College, it has been the strength of local organisation plus effective regional organisation which has made the difference. I am a socialist and a supporter of UCU Left which campaigns for an open, democratic member-led trade union.

The role of trustee is not one of political leadership but, at a time when governments are keen to use the courts to attack unions, I believe it is important to elect trustees who understand that our unity and organisation are key to defending the union. As a trustee I will be a faithful and responsible steward of UCU assets, making sure we protect our ability to represent members, when they need representation, and keep our finances in good order, so that we can operate as an independent trade union. I support building up the fighting fund, so that if we need to wage major disputes, we can do so.

Last updated: 29 January 2020