Fighting fund banner


Second GS candidate email from Ewan McGaughey

26 January 2024

I hope you're having a great end to the week. My name is Ewan McGaughey, and I'd like to ask for your #1 vote for General Secretary. We need to change the way we talk, restore a culture of respect, and be a union that actually gets results to improve our lives at work. Your vote is the most powerful tool for change, yet only 20.5% of members voted at the last election. Please vote, come to hustings, and join a Q&A, 4pm Tuesday 30/1!

(1) About me, and a new strategy

I've devoted my career to the labour movement, now as a law professor at King's College, London, after over 20 casualised jobs since age 14. I've worked with numerous unions and political parties - the TUC, the ETUC, the International Labour Organisation, the Labour Party, and the Bernie Sanders 2020 presidential campaign - and I know that a union's core goal is to transform our working lives, and the society around us.

While I was KCL UCU branch president from 2020 to 2023, we got among the highest ballot results in the country, bargained among highest paid parental leave in the UK, signed a written collective agreement enshrining job security rights, got more staff elected to Council, reversed at least three discriminatory dismissals, and sued the USS pension directors for their reckless cuts and failure to divest fossil fuels - as we did it, the cuts were reversed. Our new strategy must have clear, measurable goals, and use every tool in the box to win - collective action, legal action, and publicity. Read the full platform:!

(2) Telling the truth

We must also tell the truth. Under UCU's leadership since 2019 we've seen:

  • over 13% real pay cuts, a 20% pay gap in FE with teachers,
  • a failed aggregate ballot in 2023, because UCU's leadership hasn't done simple IT work to coordinate with branches,
  • a membership collapse, 6000 people leaving UCU, losing about £2m a year,
  • zero court cases to defend members, despite the incumbent pledging "precedent-setting legal challenges",
  • UCU as an employer in dispute with its own staff on pay, trying to trouser reduced USS contributions - a terrible message for universities - and sanctioned by H&S Executive.

We must change.

(3) Day one

If you vote for me, from day one we'll rebuild UCU, and be the change we want to see. So that we can bargain with every university and college for the same, my first actions will be to meet with UCU union representatives to get:

I can't do it alone - we must vote: for fair pay, democracy, equality, security, and a living planet.

(4) Support for Ewan

"Ewan is an extremely valued and committed academic colleague... His eight-point platform for the UCU GS addresses effectively all the issues that colleagues in universities are facing today..." - Prof Aristea Koukiadaki, Manchester

"proven his tactical and strategic understanding of how to fight successfully for UCU members" - Prof Diamond Ashiagbor, Kent

"internationally respected labour law scholar... will contribute to breaking the negotiating stalemate and falling standards that we've been witnessing" - Prof Nicola Countouris, UCL

"a force of nature... Add to this the bold legal action that he jointly co-ordinated to fight for our pensions and a picture emerges of an energetic + effective modern day union leader " - Prof Crawford Spence, KCL

"He has drive and commitment and seems to know how to get things done!" - Prof Ruth Dukes, Glasgow

"he led a successful local strike action at KCL... adopted a local version of the Postgraduate Researchers as Staff 2023 Manifesto." - Dr Raul Zepeda Gil, Oxford

"Ewan made the impossible possible. Having already greatly benefited from his work at King's, I have the utmost confidence in Ewan's ability to lead UCU" - Dr Christine Cheng, KCL

"Ewan is one of the most dedicated and focused advocates for university staff I have ever known." - Prof Neil Davies, UCL

Last updated: 26 January 2024