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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 the NEC, which I joined in 2022, to continue to represent the interests of members at this important juncture for further and higher education, where a fighting union has never been more needed. Rampant casualisation, spiralling workloads, and emboldened managerialism harm all members. As a working class, disabled, queer woman on a casualised contract, I know first-hand how the harms of precarity intersect with other forms of oppression, and I bring this lived experience to my work on the NEC.  

I am not a member of any faction and am running as a rank-and-file candidate. I am a fierce proponent of democracy within the union. Our branches and our members, as workers, are the source of UCU's strength and power. They deserve transparency and good communication. With other independent NEC members, I proposed changes to NEC's standing orders in November 2023 around accountability and transparency. If adopted in March, these will ensure that NEC members' votes are published, and that as much information as possible is made available to members as we build a fighting union capable of winning industrial disputes. I have also pushed for the expansion of the Fighting Fund to ensure that members taking industrial action across FE and HE are fully supported. 

UCU needs to live its values as an organization which works for the liberation and empowerment of marginalized members. This year, I was central to a campaign which ensured the continuation and expansion of the PGRs as Staff campaign, ensuring that the successful model can be used to improve conditions for all early career and casualized members of our union across sectors. I have been a member of the Anti-Casualisation Committee since 2019 (co-chair, 2021-2023), where I have been working to improve representation of casualised members in FE, ACE, and Prison Education. I am a member of the Climate and Ecological Emergency Committee (2022-23) and am Branch Secretary at Birkbeck UCU. I was previously Vice-President and Anti-Casualisation Officer at Exeter UCU, 2018-2020, where I authored the 2019 local anti-casualisation claim and co-founded the Exeter Anti-Casualisation Activist Network. At Birkbeck I have negotiated wins for early career workers, including investment in teaching qualifications for postdocs.  

As an internationalist socialist feminist I stand in unequivocal solidarity with trans* and non-binary comrades, people of colour, and migrant members. I am involved in cross-union campaigns against the anti-trade union laws. 

I am supporting Vicky Blake for GS, and support the candidacies of Cecilia Wee, Sam Morecroft, and Grant Buttars. 

Last updated: 25 January 2024