Fighting fund banner


Third GS candidate email from Saira Weiner

13 February 2024

Dear member,

Please make sure you Vote! Whoever you vote for.

In my previous emails I've focused on my plans for industrial strategy, democracy within the union and solidarity with Palestine. These continue to be central.

This email will focus on workload - an issue that affects all our members across all sectors.

Intolerable workload damages our members. It encroaches on our personal lives and injures our physical and mental health. That's why there are so many workers signed off with stress. 

The intensification of work is a direct result of the marketisation of post-16 education. It generates more paperwork, and encourages mass redundancies of academic and professional staff while increasing student numbers without proper resources.

Permanent posts are frequently reclassified as part-time casualised contracts. But those on them are but expected to do the work of full-time staff—on low pay.

Overwork has become endemic since the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown, with staff who had previously not complained about workload coming forward. This intersects with attacks on disabled people and other forms of discrimination, as women, disabled and Black staff tend to be in the more vulnerable positions feeling less able to say "no" to excessive workload.

In my branch we continue to deal with the erosion of the post-92 contract and devaluing of our roles as professionals, educators and researchers. Management refuses to recognise the structural issue of poor workload management, or implement fair and transparent workload models across the institution. This is not unique to my branch - and this is why tackling workload must be a collective industrial issue, not yet another thing pushed back to our hard-working branch caseworkers.

We need action, not more talking shops.

-In FE and ACE-

After waves of redundancies and restructures, Additional Learning Support and administrative staff have been cut to the bone. But "Quality" and "Compliance" departments have swelled. They hound staff to input data to meet arbitrary targets with no connection to our students' experiences.

College staff are on their knees and the students' education is impacted. The threat of Ofsted is used to bully staff into complying, for fear of colleges' being downgraded. 

As GS I will campaign with the NEU to abolish Ofsted.

Currently English FE doesn't have national bargaining. Individual branches are left to fight alone, and there are huge disparities in the sector. This is wrong.

As GS I will support calls for nationally aggregated ballots to fight for national agreements on pay and workload.

-In HE-

Workload has been one of the "Four Fights" with broad support for sector-wide solutions. But despite concerted efforts to address workloads, workers in HE average two days a week in unpaid (often involuntary) overtime. 

As an ever rising number of universities announce redundancies, workloads will worsen. There seems no recognition by university employers that this damages students' education and weakens our ability to produce world leading research. The Post-92 Agreement breaches will only make this worse. 

As GS I will launch a campaign around defence of the contract. 

-Workload is an equality issue-

It is integral to our fight for equality - those who are marginalised are more likely to be bullied into completing work beyond their contracted hours. And those on precarious contracts feel this pressure more sharply, fearing it would be a barrier to permanent contracts - which is a real threat.

Disabled people can face significant disadvantages as when they raise unmanageable workloads they are advised to go part-time and only minimal reasonable adjustments are offered. Their pay and pensions are reduced, whilst many people living with disabilities face higher day-to-day costs. This is unacceptable. 

-Workload must be a UK-wide, cross-sectoral issue-

Workload must be part of our national industrial campaigns. It is excellent that some branches have managed to negotiate local workload and wellbeing protocols.

But if it's left to local negotiations then multi-tier sectors will follow, with some branches 'left behind' suffering impossible workloads.

Within each sector, branches with weaker organisation, those with stretched regional support and those with CEOs and VCs that claim poverty - will struggle to make gains.

All post-16 education is a public good. Education should not be marketised where cost-cutting squeezes more out of workers.

 As GS I will support:

  • The defence and extension of contractual protection against overloading
  • Education of members on safe contractual limits
  • Campaigning that links high quality education with good working conditions for staff

Please vote for me and other UCU Left candidates.

Here's my websitemanifesto and FE manifesto.

In solidarity,


Last updated: 13 February 2024