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Suzi Toole (Bolton College)

25 January 2024

Election address

Like many of you, I have cried with joy as former students have shared with me how their lives have changed after investing in their education to enhance their skills or pursue their dream careers. As a science tutor at Bolton College, I have seen firsthand how FE can alter the trajectory of people's lives. I feel privileged to be part of the journey for students overcoming adversity in education.  

However, it seems we must fight not only the barriers to education but also against increasingly unreasonable employers and a viciously uncaring short-sighted government. I am incensed by spiralling workloads, exploitation of casualised staff and shocking inequalities across our sectors leading to stressed, demoralised staff and poorer outcomes for learners. Through an intersectional approach, I aim to ensure that the voices of all women within UCU are heard and represented democratically. 

Trade unionism has been a feature of my entire working life, starting with joining USDAW at sixteen. As a teacher, I was employed for 3 years on casual agency contracts and effectively exploited before finally securing a full-time position. I understand what it's like to not know if you have a job, next year, next term or even next week.  

This year I led pay negotiations and our branch smashed the threshold for strike action, culminating in a massive and lively picket and an unprecedented pay and conditions offer.  

I have held branch positions of learning rep, safety rep and now Chair. I am eager to help shape the future of UCU, building on the foundations of what we have already achieved together to fight for fairer pay and workloads.  

We need to work together to establish pilot workload agreements and implement proper functional stress risk assessments with employers. Attending a UCU workgroup on tackling our debilitating workloads has highlighted this is a key area where progress needs to be made. We must put a stop to endless demands being piled onto the shoulders of staff and then blaming those same staff for being overwhelmed and suffering from physical and mental health difficulties as a result.  

Those working through menopause are especially vulnerable to these stresses and more needs to be done across workplaces to support these members, not just the tokenistic efforts currently in place. I am dedicated to fostering an inclusive platform and aspire to uphold the values of equality and fairness for all women within our union. 

I am supporting Jo Grady for re-election as General Secretary and David Hunter as UCU Vice-President. If elected, I will work with them for a stronger and forward-looking union. To see who else is committed to this, visit 

Last updated: 25 January 2024