Boycott Leicester

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Dr Claire Marris (City, University of London)


Election address

I am Reader in the Centre for Food Policy at City and my research is in Science and Technology Studies (STS). I joined UCU in 1992 when I started my first job at a UK university. Prior to that, during my PhD, I worked for the AFRC (now BBSRC) and was branch representative for the IPCS (now IPMS), with responsibility for supporting researchers on fixed term contracts. In the 1980s being 'casualised' meant being on 'short-term' contracts of 3 years! I was employed as an academic contracts of 2 to 5 years until I obtained my current job in 2016. I thought I knew about casualisation in UK HE. But when I read the #PrecarityStories relating the lived experience of staff starting their careers in the last decade, I am horrified. I also know that those of us who have 'permanent' senior positions are inevitably complicit in practices that lead to such precarisation. Our universities pretend to care about diversity through tick-box initiatives such as Athena Swan Awards and Race Equality Charters, but rely on these exploitative practices and refuse to act effectively to reduce the gender, race and disability pay gaps, or against work cultures that enable bullying of discriminated groups. We need systemic change. We must fight against the marketisation of UK HE that underlies worsening working conditions for staff and learning conditions for students.

My engagement with UCU was galvanised during the 2018 strike. I am a founding member of USSBriefs, an activist research network that emerged out of that strike, and became an ordinary member of my Branch Executive. I was a member of Jo Grady's General Secretary campaign team, where I was responsible for organising #Grady4GS 'groundgame' teams across dozens of universities that have been credited for increasing the turnout of the GS election from 13.7% to 20.5%. Grady's campaign gave me hope that we could transform UCU into a more democratic trade union that would support ordinary members to get more informed and involved, take diversity and equality issues seriously, and care about the working conditions of all FE and HE staff.

If elected to the NEC, I will campaign in particular:

  • against precarisation of our universities' workforce;
  • for effective means to tackle gender, race and disability equality, and their intersections, in our universities and within UCU, including inclusive policies for trans and non-binary colleagues and students;
  • against the #HostileEnvironment and for universities to pay for visa fees of their staff;
  • for increased transparency of the NEC, and publishing my own voting records.

I am not a member of UCU Left or Independent Broad / Progressive Left. I support Stan Papoulias and Annie Goh as candidates for the London & East seats.




Last updated: 30 January 2020