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Estelle Hart (Swansea University)

25 January 2024

Election address

I work as communications officer within the PGR team at Swansea University. I've been an active member in my branch since starting at Swansea, as a case worker, organising strike activity, running member engagement sessions on local and national issues, and as part of the MAB negotiating team.  

I am also the chair of UCU Cymru Council, and in this role, I have represented UCU Cymru in the media, worked with UCU Cymru to submit evidence to Parliamentary committees in Westminster and Cardiff Bay, and met with and lobbied politicians. 

Like far too many UCU members these are roles I've carried out while on part-time and short-term contracts, with an ever-growing workload, and an uncertainty about the financial picture in my institution and the sector as a whole. 

I've been an active trade unionist since I started working and involved in campaigning, particularly around education and women's rights, since I was a teenager. 

Our greatest strength is our collective power but the way UCU currently works not only fails to harness that power but actively pushes people away. Far too many members on my campus and in other branches have told me they feel utterly disconnected from the union's decision making. 

From our Byzantine democratic processes to the farce of asking members views on strategies for action we're already balloting for something has to change. 

If I'm elected to NEC I will support measures to truly democratise the union, make decision making more transparent, and empower members to make change on their campuses and to decide the direction of their national union. 

Industrial action - We should not ballot on industrial action until we are confident we have the support on the ground to ensure it is effective. We have to be more creative than strike after strike. 

Member engagement - End the false dichotomy that says member engagement is either a BDM or an e-survey. We have to diversify the methods used to speak to our members. 

Supporting local action - Too many branches were left feeling cut adrift after MAB. Branches should have greater support to organise and introduce changes we can model across the sector. 

Transparency - as Wales' HE rep I will 

-     Create opportunities for all branches' and members to feed in their views on what NEC and HEC are discussing  

-     Be open and honest about my views on union policy 

-     Attend branch and member meetings 

-     Send regular updates to branches and members 

Last updated: 25 January 2024