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Richard McEwan (New City College (Tower Hamlets))

25 January 2024

Election address

#For a nationally aggregated ballot and democratic fighting union 
 I teach GCSE mathematics at New City College.  

-    Branch Secretary of NCC THC Poplar.  

-    FE National Negotiator.  

-    UCU FEC Vice Chair 2014-16, 2021-Current  

-    UCU NEC 2010-2016, 2020-Current.  

-    London Region Committee. 

-    Dedicated UCU activist for more than 15 years.  

-    My branch has been at the forefront of pay campaigns in the last decade, our College Group is among the highest pay in the sector.   

-    Campaigned in the workplace for a Gaza ceasefire.

Why I am standing 

FE has been at the centre of education cuts and marketisation for so long it is hard to imagine anything different. That belief has held our union leadership back. 

The anti-trade union laws made national strikes in FE seem remote. Myself and others on the Further Education Committee (FEC) fought for coordinated action on pay to 'light fires under the arses' of our employers. 

We had some local successes. Of 15 branches who fought then, CCCG won 5% at a time most branches were achieving 2-3%. Last year some 30 branches took action. Yet only around half won any pay awards with few winning 5-9%.  

The union's de facto local deal's strategy is not working to generalise those few successes. 

This year we achieved an historic 87% yes vote on a 51% turn-out in a national e-ballot. We were well positioned to launch a national aggregated ballot like the NEU, who won 6.5% - for all their members. 

Up to 150 branches could have coordinated to demand we leave no one behind. In the end just 8 branches took action. 

This was a huge missed opportunity when the employers were attentive to our demand for national binding sector bargaining. 

Workload was supposed to be central but hardly featured in the campaign. There was never any literature explaining to members why binding national bargaining matters. The agenda is limited local disputes, not a wider campaign for real change. 

Members have responded brilliantly during the campaigns in the ballots and on the pickets. It is not because of their lack of appetite for change. 

There is a pessimism in the union leadership at the top, that says, in practice, all we can achieve is below inflation local deals and retain what conditions we have. 

That is not good enough. 

The sector has an increase of students, another £275m coming, an historic recruitment crisis and the employers are defensive on pay decline.  

The time to move to national aggregated ballot action is now. Another education is possible.  

Vote for a fighting national union.


Richard McEwan  


UCU left member.

Vote for Saira Weiner for GS.  

Vote for Peter Evans for VP. 


Last updated: 25 January 2024