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Second GS candidate email from Saira Weiner

25 January 2024

Dear colleague,

Thanks for reading my last email, and to everyone who has contacted me. Please vote for me and other UCU Left candidates to transform this union.

I will be a different kind of General Secretary, who puts democratic debate and membership involvement in decision-making at the core of our union campaigns.


Every candidate will talk about 'democracy'. For me, democracy means respecting our union structures and increasing the opportunities for members to feed into these.

●      Rank and file control of disputes:

Members should have debates and votes in branches, which are fed through our regional and national structures.

●      Policy and strategy  must be set by members voting in our sovereign bodies, sector conferences and congress, not the GS or NEC. Elected officers must enact what members vote for, without prevarication

●      Strike committees should organise and coordinate their actions with elected delegates from striking branches.

I will support our structures, strike committees, and branch delegate meetings. Poorly worded surveys and undemocratic YouTube or Twitter/X 'briefings' will not be used.


National strategies - not branch by branch resistance.

●       Local action cannot solve structural problems. Redundancies and restructures must be resisted with the full force of the union.

●      We must explore all avenues to stop and reverse attacks on the Arts and Humanities, up to and including UK-wide action.

●      Branches facing redundancies must be equally and adequately supported with negotiations, organising strikes, and enhanced fighting fund access.

●      We need binding agreements against all casualisation across the sectors.

●      We urgently need coherent industrial and political strategies for HE and FE to tackle unequal and low pay, mounting redundancies, casualisation and workload.

I support a Special Higher Education Sector Conference now to get our defence of the sector back on track. We cannot proceed without policy mandated by the sector's sovereign body.

I support an aggregated ballot across Further Education to win decent pay and a binding agreement to force employers to implement it.

Extending Democracy

Our Casualised members have self-organised outside  union structures for many years (e.g. Corona Contract). They have huge amounts of experience and are particularly affected by the failed re-ballot in HE.

One way to increase democracy is for casualised members to have their voices heard and have a say in key decisions. We must strengthen our anti-casualisation work, alongside the NEC Reps for Casualised members and Anti-Casualisation Committee, by increasing the numbers of members being involved in debates and consultation.

Grassroots initiatives like the UCU Solidarity Movement and Corona Contract show a different way to organise. We should learn from their example. Regular, open organising discussions online, so members share ideas are vital. It won't undermine the existing structures, it will strengthen them.

Time for change

I will not run the union as it is run now. From industrial strategy to communications, internal democracy to international work, things must shift.

The incumbent candidate tells us that if we stick with her, big things will come. But throughout the last years of the HE disputes we have only seen more of the same industrial strategy being pushed. In FE the clear desire from members for a nationally aggregated ballot has been delayed and frustrated, leaving a handful fighting in isolation.

Much has been achieved through the resilience of our members. The USS victory was achieved by hard hitting strikes, in direct opposition to the General Secretary's strategy to halt industrial action.  


On Palestine, we have a moral obligation to speak up and make a stand against genocide. We must defend every member and we need:

●       Maximum possible action on 7th February Day of Action.

●      A national campaign to defend academic freedom.

●      BDS on every campus.  

On paper we've got fantastic policies opposing casualisation and defending our black, women, LGBT+ and disabled members. But these need to be enacted in practice. We can't abandon the fight on gender and race pay gaps.

I stand in solidarity with our trans members against them being used as political footballs, and with our migrant members against this government's attacks.  

The Tories are implementing new Minimum Service Level anti-union laws. We must be brave enough to break unjust laws to defend our members.

We face a real choice. Who do you want to run your disputes and your campaigns, an out of touch General Secretary or rank and file members? Vote for me to put members in charge.


In Solidarity,


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Last updated: 25 January 2024