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Janet Farrar (The Manchester College)

Election address

UCU is changing. Something exciting is happening.

You can see it in the HE sector, where members voted to strike over pensions, pay, workload, equality and precarity to make their employers return to the negotiating table.

You can see the growing confidence in FE branches who are reaching new agreements with employers after taking local action with national support.

Members want their union to be renewed. This was the message from the election of our new General Secretary, Jo Grady. The union needs to change to remain relevant. I want to be part of a movement for change.

We can be better at:

  • campaigning and negotiating to improve our workplaces;
  • representing the needs of casualised and marginalised members in a hostile working environment;
  • supporting members and reps;
  • building workplace organisation;
  • developing a united voice fighting for public education, for our members, students, and communities.

Trade unionism is a huge part of my life; I grew up in a family of union reps. I lecture in a Trade Union Education unit at The Manchester College. I have extensive experience as a:

  • Caseworker
  • Branch officer
  • Secretary to the NW Regional Committee
  • National Executive Committee member
  • Vice-Chair of the UK FE Committee
  • FE National negotiator (England).

To be successful, we need the right arguments, but also a union that knows how to build collective power in workplaces. Sometimes we have to strike but when we do, it should be a means to an end, not the end itself.

Our union represents a diverse range of professions. I listen to the issues faced by lecturers, researchers, and professional services staff in post-92 and pre-92 HE, FE, prisons and adult education. I recognise our members work across different political environments in the devolved nations and NI.

Previously, I have experienced life on a precarious contract. It is time for the whole union to prioritise tackling this super-exploitation.

For too long, equality has been an add-on to our activities: tackling the gender, BAME and disability pay gaps should be integrated into our bargaining demands.

I know what it is like to juggle the challenges of increased workload with limited resources alongside union duties and trying to maintain a life/work balance. I will continue to support members with mental health issues and those experiencing stress, bullying and harassment.

We must continue to play our part in pushing progressive values on a range of issues, from student fees to the Green New Deal.

By organising around the issues you think are important, we can present a united, collective front to employers.

I would be honoured to be your Vice-President. I want to be part of building stronger future for our union: democratic, transparent and truly accountable.

 

Last updated: 29 January 2020