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Third GS candidate email from Ewan McGaughey

5 February 2024

Dear colleague

A very good Monday to you. My name is Prof Ewan McGaughey, and I'm writing because with UCU turnout so low, your vote can really decide the General Secretary election!

People across the UK are coming to this platform - - because they're doing something radical: they're reading, and seeing UCU's leadership could function again. I know there are other great candidates - people who, like you, work incredibly hard to make our union, universities and colleges succeed. See my preferences below. Whatever you do, vote!

My last email set out basics on restoring real pay (since 2019 £6000 less for a starting HE lecturer, 20% gap in FE with teachers), reversing the 6000 member loss, and defending members' rights in court. Now let's focus 3 oft-forgotten issues.

(1) Action for structural equality

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

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

First, we all want to end the gender, race and disability pay gaps, but we need structural change to do it. All the research suggests the gender pay gap's leading cause is unequal parenting. So we've got to raise and equalise paid parental leave, at least up to 26 weeks. The next biggest cause of all gaps (accounting for 39% by one study) is 'outright discrimination'. So we need a legal strategy to actually defend members, even if sometimes we lose. UCU took no court cases since 2019. We must also move away from paying bias 'market' rates, to positive action, so new appointments and promotions contribute to lowering the pay gaps, not increasing them.

And we can do it. While I was KCL branch president, we balloted and bargained (without needing a strike) to raise paid parental leave by 6 weeks. We reversed three discriminatory dismissals, over maternity and disability, getting our colleagues' jobs back. I've personally won in Tribunals in race and sex discrimination cases, acting free. If you vote, on day one, I'll make these changes at UCU itself, and together we'll roll out structural equality UK-wide.

(2) End climate damage

"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

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

Second, we've got a climate emergency, and we need swift change for a "just cessation" of fossil fuels. On day one, if you vote, we'll shift to 100% clean energy at UCU itself, setting an example for all workplaces, as we rank universities and bargain for change everywhere. With Prof Neil Davies, and over 6000 colleagues we crowdfunded a case against the USS directors to end fossil fuels, as well as stop pension cuts. As we got leave to the Court of Appeal, the cuts were reversed, and we established a precedent that beneficaries could sue. But we didn't succeed on procedure, or fossil fuels.

If you vote, we'll finish the job because UCU will use its bargaining power, and become a coherent advocate for legislative reform, to save our planet.

(3) Democracy

"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

"Having previously backed our incumbent GenSec, I just cast my vote for Ewan, who is standing on the most sensible and coherent platform I have seen for some time." - Dr Stuart MacLennan, Coventry

Third, we must win democracy at work: every university and college with majority staff-elected governing bodies. They pick management, set pay, equality policy, job security, and choose their own successors. It's wrong.

At KCL we balloted and won two more staff elected to Council, and a full governance review. We need the same majority-representation in pension funds. There are great campaigns currently in Wales, and UCU must back them!

(4) Preferences

Vote by record and conscience! Here are my picks:

  • General Secretary, second or third, vote Vicky Blake or Saira Weiner - they're organised + work with other people.
  • Vice President, vote Peter Evans - easily the most experienced + qualified.

Best wishes, Ewan

Last updated: 5 February 2024