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Fourth GS candidate email from Ewan McGaughey

19 February 2024

Dear colleague,

A very happy Monday! Your vote for the next UCU general secretary is the most important in a generation for our education system. This week is the last safe week to post, so please open that A4 envelope, and vote! For a replacement ballot, go here. I believe our vote is not only a right, but also a duty, to use our voice to help each other, and together to transform society around us.

So, we all must vote to not only (1) get the basics right, but also (2) look at the big picture. Every part of my plan comes with experience of success, and a strategy on "How we do it". And if pressed for time, watch the summaries on YouTube:

(1) The basics

"Changed my mind completely after hearing all and this man... It's Ewan for me. Fresh new ideas, not been clouded by years in NEC/HEC, focused, critical, with solutions. Would be able to transform our movement & union." - Prof Lopa Leach, Nottingham

I'm asking for your #1 preference, because we must change, even to do the basics. As a labour relations expert, having had casual jobs since age 14, and having the experience of getting results, it's clear to me what we must change at UCU from day one:

  • meet with UCU union reps to end this unbelievable "culture of fear" and pay dispute reported by UCU's own staff,
  • at UCU itself, negotiate to raise and equalise paid parental leave, and then bargain for it everywhere, to help end the gender pay gap,
  • undo the structural causes of sexism, racism and ablism, and have zero tolerance for discrimination at UCU itself, and nationwide,
  • if you're in FE, close the immoral 20% pay gap compared to teachers, now,
  • if you're in HE, bargain in good faith for a multi-year pay deal to reverse the real pay cuts since 2019 (e.g. £6000 more for a lecturer), and make simple data changes to win every ballot,
  • boost our legal department, to actually defend members' rights - as we did at KCL reversing three discriminatory dismissals, and suing the USS pension directors for their reckless cuts,
  • restore UCU membership with a complete change in tone, replacing infighting and Twitter with decency and results. I'll have a target to restore UCU density to 2019/20 levels and go further. At least 140,000 members, just as my own branch saw over a 15% member increase, because that's the best way to get cash to win.

(2) The big picture

"For the first time in nearly 20 years as a UCU member, I'll be enthusiastic about voting for our GS. I'll be voting for Ewan. Impressed by his plans for closing the gender pay gap, for challenging employers in court and for reducing the sector's carbon emissions." - Rachel Featherstone, Teesside Uni

"... unparalleled understanding of British labour law, plus a crystal clear vision of what needs to change and how we can do it. UCU can and should be a vehicle for transformative change, including radical climate action, and Ewan's leadership can make this happen." - Prof Jason Hickel, UPF, ex Goldsmiths

If you vote, fixing the basics is the easy part. But our union movement is meant to be so much more: we must transform our society. What that means to me is this:

(a) A democratic economy. The divide between democracy in politics, and authoritarianism in our economy must end. So UCU must push transformation, winning votes at work, with governing bodies majority-elected by staff, as an example for every UK workplace. And we'll democratise capital, making boards of our pensions accountable to us, using our capital for good.

(b) A living planet, not more climate damage. We must end consumption of gas, oil and coal at UCU itself, and then immediately rank, and bargain with, every uni and college for 100% clean energy.

(c) Universal public services, not cut-throat competition. Our union needs to be at the heart of building a new National Education Service, as we end 14 years of Tory misrule, and work constructively to hold the next government to the hopes we all have.

These are my convictions about what is absolutely achievable. If you vote, you'll see a working union, not an infighting one. You'll see transformation. I'll work with everyone, especially those who backed other candidates, because we're a union. I'll be completely committed to getting you results. All you have to do is get that ballot and ...

Best wishes, Ewan

Last updated: 15 February 2024