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Michael Abberton (University of Cambridge)

25 January 2024


Election address

I'm Michael Abberton, and I'm running for the position of nationally-elected NEC member for HE. I have been working in UK higher education since 2004 when I returned from Japan, where I was the Vice-Principal of a vocational college. For the past twelve years, I have been employed by the University of Cambridge, specifically at Cambridge University Press and Assessment, serving as a Senior Assessment Manager in an academic-related role.  

I have been active my local UCU branch, holding various roles from department rep to Branch President since 2020. I've done numerous UCU and TUC training courses from Employment Law to H&S rep and have been able to put all of this training to good use for individual members as senior caseworker, and for the branch and dept collectively as rep and president. Outside the union, I'm a certified mental health first aider.  

As branch president, I was part of the negotiating team that achieved a historic milestone for our branch when we entered into a voluntary recognition agreement with the University of Cambridge, the last public university in England to recognize UCU. We maintained a positive working relationship with university management throughout the recent dispute which was key to securing the first joint union/management statement on USS, and then this year on 4 Fights, urging UCEA to return to meaningful talks. 

Being a trade unionist throughout my working life, I strongly believe that a union should function as a community, providing mutual support both locally and nationally. I am committed to creating a safe space where every member can contribute equally and have their voices heard. In my view, it is essential to ensure that no member is disenfranchised due to personal circumstances or inability to attend branch meetings. I am opposed to the notion of an elite within the union, where members are judged on their activism or meeting attendance. All members should have equal opportunities to shape the union and its strategy - consultation should inform the elected officers of the union, not political influence, nor increasing supernumerary unelected and unconstitutional committees.  

The government seems intent on making universities the front line in their culture war - increasing oppression of the LGBTQ+ community, attacking academic freedom, removing our right to strike. Now more than ever we need a strong, united, fully-participatory member-led union. 

If elected, I will strive to champion the rights and interests of all our members and work to ensure that our union remains inclusive, democratic, and effective in addressing the day to day and future challenges we face. 

I support the aims of the Campaign for UCU Democracy. 

Last updated: 25 January 2024