Fighting fund banner


Saira Weiner (Liverpool John Moores University)

23 February 2024

First GS candidate email from Saira Weiner

Second GS candidate email from Saira Weiner

Third GS candidate email from Saira Weiner

Fourth GS candidate email from Saira Weiner

Election address

I am a Senior Lecturer in Education Studies at LJMU (2013-). Before that, I was a Secondary School teacher, specialising in working with Looked After Children and those at risk of exclusion.

●    LJMU branch secretary 2018-

●    NW Region HE Chair / Vice Chair 2019-

●    UCU NEC Women's Rep (HE) 2014-2016

●    Chair Women's Standing Committee 2015-2016

●    UCU NEC North West Rep (HE) 2019-2023

●    Chair ROCC 2022-2023

I'm disabled, Jewish, anti-racist, socialist, and Pro-Palestinian.

Why I'm standing

1.  Democracy.

UCU needs democratic renewal and a General Secretary committed to implementing democratic decisions our members make.

When members take action they must have control, with branch meetings determining the course of strikes, and national strike committees coordinating across branches. 

Branch Delegate Meetings should be run by members with questions agreed democratically, not by HQ.

2.  Control from below.

The NEC and its subcommittees must implement decisions made through our democratic structures in branches, regions, nations and Congress.

3.  Strengthen the grassroots.

As GS, I will ensure the democratic decisions of members are followed, seeking to strengthen rank and file involvement. I will not promote surveys with no democratic basis, instead facilitating member led debate and decision making.

4.  Transparency and accountability.

Decisions of leadership bodies are too often kept from members on spurious grounds, citing "confidentiality". I will make sure our existing policy that says voting records and meeting minutes should be made public is enacted.

5.  Trusting members.

Top down culture has to change. I will encourage involvement by implementing the decisions you make. I will visit branches and regions and hold regular all-member online meetings to hear and discuss your views.

As GSI will accept the average wage for UCU members. The rest will go to branch disputes, refugee organisations and other causes, clearly recorded and available for scrutiny.

The UK's Conservative Government seeks to blame refugees and migrants, LGBT+ people (especially our trans siblings), Black people, and other racialised groups for the continuing crises that drive people into poverty and destroy our planet.

Our NHS and education systems are woefully underfunded. And there's more repression coming with new laws against unions, strikes and protests. We can't go on like this.

Starmer's Labour is completely failing to oppose this offensive. Unions are the only real opposition building resistance, for example calling the most strike days in Britain since 1989 and the wave of solidarity for Palestine.

Lasting Change

I'm offering fundamental root-and-branch change in how UCU operates and how the leadership is held accountable. I want to be part of a movement for change.

Despite the amazing commitment of our members, the national union has too often left members isolated and without sufficient support.

It's sometimes said that UCU members are tired from industrial action. Actually it's being let down that we are tired of.

I want people to vote for me. But it won't be enough to change the top officials: we need to encourage and promote grassroots organisation and initiatives.

We need a UCU that is democratic, fights for its members, and wins.

We have won important victories. Hard hitting industrial action reversed cuts to USS pensions. UCU Left was proved right in arguing that a full return of benefits lost ("no detriment") could be won.

Strategies for all Sectors

Higher Education

We need to reboot the Four Fights. Abandoning fair pay, job security, safe workloads and equality are not an option.

We need a strategy that stops employers waiting out action and ballot mandates. Shutting down campuses must become a reality.

The MAB put huge pressure on many employers and won amazing support from students, even though it hit graduation. But UCU's leadership failed to capitalise on this by limiting strikes over punitive deductions and leaving branches to fight individually, as in 2022. I will not let this happen again.

There's widespread disillusion about the implementation of last year's strategy. We need a new approach with membership control of the action at its heart.

We have to urgently fight post-92 cuts and changes to the Teachers Pension Scheme. The entire union must back a campaign demanding the Government "Pay Up for Post-92", as they have for school and FE schemes. We should ballot post-92 branches for strikes unless employers guarantee no compulsory redundancies.

Further Education

FE is in crisis. Staff are leaving due to low pay and unmanageable workloads. Members need a leader with a national strategy to increase national funding and give them confidence. For too long FE branches have fought their employers alone or in small groups of branches, leaving the sector increasingly divided.

FE has been reclassified as part of the public sector, and there is the real possibility of winning back national bargaining. But we will need national action to secure this.

Adult Community Education

ACE members need national collective bargaining, secure contracts, decent pay and workloads. With a renewed emphasis on campaigning for adult education, I will demand a national lifelong learning strategy and reversal of funding cuts.

Prison Education

Health and Safety is primary in Prison Education with members not receiving the support they need. We must campaign for improved facilities, smaller class sizes, better pay and conditions, and against long hours. We have won an improvement in Gate time but it remains inadequate for many.

Private Providers

Private post-16 employers are growing, and few have recognition agreements with UCU. We must campaign to encourage UCU membership in this area, organise new branches and win recognition.


UCU must fight for everyone and argue for liberation for all oppressed people within the union, and beyond.

We need collective solidarity, giving each other confidence to challenge sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, disablism and all oppressions within our institutions.

UCU must listen to the Equality Standing Committees' calls for action and demands for change.

Casualisation & Post Graduate Researchers

Across post-16 education we have seen salaries slashed, workload increased, rampant equality pay gaps and increasing casualisation. It's time to change our response.

We must end all casualised contracts, for all career stages, giving members security in their working lives. These demands must be central to all our national and local bargaining. We cannot abandon our most vulnerable colleagues.

Free Speech and Academic Freedom

Free speech and academic freedom are central - as management attacks on members who speak out over Palestine demonstrate. We must defend them with the whole might of the union.

The Law

UCU has been too timid in testing legal advice. We need to be bold in challenging a legal system diametrically opposed to our rights.

Industrial Relations within UCU

Staff working for UCU must have good terms and conditions. I oppose the undermining of the collective bargaining agreement with Unite. If elected I will join Unite.

Industrial organising

I will campaign for UK-wide bargaining in all sectors, provide branches with the support and resources they need, and work closely with sibling unions. The victory on USS pensions shows that action delivers results and this is what builds the union, not super majorities.

The Minimum Service Bill going through Parliament is an attack on the right to strike. I stand with those in the trade union movement who are calling for non-compliance if it becomes law.

I am a socialist and know we need a fighting Union. We must continue to stand up for Palestine and for trans liberation. We must be part of the movement against environmental destruction. We need a society where people come before profits.

For further detail see my manifesto:

Last updated: 23 February 2024