Boycott Leicester

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Julie Hearn (Lancaster University)

Election address

I am a lecturer in Politics at Lancaster University and branch president.  In 2016 you elected me onto the NEC for the first time and for a second time in 2018.  I would like to stand for a final term of office in 2020.  It has been an honour to represent HE members' interests, particularly during the historic 2018 USS strike and now during the four fights, one voice and USS pension justice strike.  I am proud to stand again as a UCU Left candidate, drawing on the collective vision, courage and wisdom of successful, experienced grassroots trade unionists.  Fellow UCU Left candidates, Sunil Banga and Mark Abel, and I put together the critical HEC motion, which allowed us to combine our strike action for both disputes.  This was strategically key for a number of reasons.

National Strategic Thinking

First, pensions and pay are two sides of the same coin. The attacks on both have the same roots in the catastrophic marketisation and financialisation of our sector.  UUK and UCEA recognise this themselves when they issued a joint open letter on the two disputes.  Second, by striking on both, we are not sacrificing one for the other and losing out again on equality issues.  Third, USS was a pre-92s strike.  By having a combined ballot, we have been able to unite strike action across the whole HE sector.  Fourth, it would be harder for members to vote for strike action if they were going to lose pay in two consecutive strikes rather than one strike.  The quickest root to resolving both disputes is for USS to concede that USS should not be valued as if it were necessary to 'de-risk' the scheme.  That would immediately release 3.1% of salary costs, which could be spent on a settlement on pay and equality.

Building Grassroots Trade Unionism

As well as contributing to national strategy, building an inclusive bottom-up branch with equality at its heart has been my priority.  As a branch, we have successfully negotiated one of the most progressive policies on fixed term contracts.  We have worked together with BAME students to protest hate speech on campus, to organise Black History Month as part of the national UCU and Stand Up to Racism tour, and to set up a staff-student Race Equality Network.  For the first time, all four of our senior branch officers are diverse and have different protected characteristics.  On UCU's Day of Action on Disability we had a brilliant Teach-Out, with staff and student contributions.  We have a committee which is gender equal and with new, young members, many on insecure contracts.  We had a fantastic strike and we support the school-student climate emergency strikes.

Last updated: 30 January 2020