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Dr Rhian Elinor Keyse (Birkbeck, University of London)

25 January 2024

Election address

I've been a fixed-term Postdoctoral Fellow at Birkbeck since 2020, after working as an hourly-paid teacher in pre- and post-92 institutions since 2013. I've been a committed local and national UCU activist since 2018. I'm seeking re-election to NEC to continue to represent the interests of members at this important juncture for FE and HE, where a fighting union has never been more needed. Rampant casualisation, spiralling workloads, and emboldened managerialism harm all members. As a casualised, working class, disabled, queer woman who is a survivor of gender-based violence, I know first-hand how the harms of precarity intersect with other forms of oppression.

I am not a member of any faction within UCU. My activism is grounded in intersectional and internationalist socialist feminism. My research is focused on gendered violence at the intersections of race and colonialism. I have managed and worked in several frontline domestic and sexual violence services. Alongside my PhD I set up a support project for homeless women with experiences of sexual violence. Before this I co-founded a Rape Crisis Centre and was involved with student campaigns to ensure training for University staff dealing with sexual and domestic violence. I stand in unequivocal solidarity with trans* and non-binary comrades, women of colour, and migrant members.

There is a long way to go to end gendered discrimination within our workplaces and union. As an NEC member I have spoken for motions supporting members experiencing gendered violence, pushed for UCU to improve its own complaints procedures to ensure a more trauma-informed approach, and advocated that UCU implements its own policies. I work with advocacy groups on campaigns around sexual harassment against education staff and students. My background demonstrates a genuine commitment to representing women, and I have an in-depth, practically focused understanding of gender-based oppression and how it intersects with industrial discrimination, through issues such as domestic and sexual violence, harassment, precarity, and disability.

Recognising that precariously employed women often bear the brunt of gendered violence within the workplace, this year I was central to a campaign which ensured the continuation of the PGRs as Staff campaign and its expansion to improve conditions for all casualised UCU members across sectors. I have been a member of the Anti-Casualisation Committee since 2019 (co-chair, 2021-2023). I am a member of the Climate and Ecological Emergency Committee (2022-23) and Branch Secretary at Birkbeck. I was previously Vice-President and Anti-Casualisation Officer at Exeter UCU where I authored the 2019 local anti-casualisation claim and co-founded the Anti-Casualisation Activist Network. I am a fierce proponent of democracy within the union and have proposed changes to NEC's standing orders around accountability and transparency, including the publication of voting records and papers for members' scrutiny.

Last updated: 25 January 2024