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Dr Justine Mercer (University of Warwick)

28 July 2020

Election address

Associate Professor, University of Warwick


Covid-19 represents the biggest global challenge in living memory. As a consequence, post-16 education faces an unprecedented crisis with respect to health and safety, workload and job security. We must grasp this unique opportunity to reaffirm the transformative power of education and reimagine our working lives. Of course, we should campaign, now more than ever, for better funding (spread more fairly), but we also need to build back better so that our "new normal" is more sustainable, more egalitarian and more compassionate.

Over the next four years, let's build a more united union that cares for and protects all its members, especially those with the quietest voices and most precarious lives. Let's build a union that thinks more strategically; bargains more creatively, and looks longer-term.

Even in these uncertain times, we can increase our political and industrial strength. I'd welcome your ideas on this, personally, I'd like us to make better use of members' existing expertise; develop a credible 3-5 year bargaining agenda; increase our membership density, and forge fresh alliances.

As your Vice-President, I'd want to campaign with you in order to secure:

  • Workplaces where staff and student safety is paramount;
  • Manageable workloads that support mental and physical wellbeing; 
  • An end to casualisation and precarity - I had precarious contracts for 17 years so I'm absolutely committed to tackling this scourge; 
  • An end to inequality in all its forms - the discrimination experienced by women, BAME, migrant and disabled members cannot continue; 
  • Sustainable working practices that address the climate emergency.

I believe my unique combination of independence, experience and knowledge makes me the #1 choice for VP.


Not being part of a faction or slate means I can more easily unite all our different voices. 

Experience at national, regional, branch and individual level:

I've been on NEC for three years and so understand its labyrinthine rules and procedures (which I'd work to make more transparent and democratic). I've been active on the two Regional Committees in the Midlands. I was the University of Warwick Branch President for four years, chairing two successful local campaigns in which wecompletely defeated TeachHigher(a toxic temping agency for hourly-paid staff) and resisted the abolition of our employment statute. I also led the branch during the 2018 USS dispute. I've been a caseworker for six years.


I teach and write about HE leadership in my "day job" as an associate professor. I've researched HE employment relations, gender, professors and early-career academics. 

GTVO for me!

I don't have a slate or faction fighting my corner. So, if you want me as your VP, please persuade everyone you know to put me #1. Otherwise, I'm toast!

Last updated: 28 July 2020