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Fourth GS candidate email from Vicky Blake

20 February 2024

Dear colleague,

Democratise - Organise - Unite

I believe in UCU, and I believe in the strong and confident union we can be.

Please read my manifesto about the union I commit to build with you: (

Workloads are high and pay has plummeted in real terms. Departments are closing, restructuring has become a regular occurrence, and insecure work and workplace stress are damaging our health and lives. We need urgent action to address the climate emergency and for a just transition that protects workers' rights.

We do face serious challenges across post-16 education but we can meet them. With a sense of focused, strategic urgency, we can win together.

We need more than a media strategy. We need a coherent political, organising, and industrial strategy focused on concrete improvements in our workplaces, pay and conditions. We need to insist that post-16 education institutions are valued as the cornerstones of our communities, and of our local, regional, and national economies.

So how do we solve workplace problems? A change in our approach to legal action is important, but legal action alone will not be enough. We cannot assume that winning ballots on their own will do the work, or that one form or pattern of industrial action will automatically win. When we have a mandate, we need to use it effectively. When we take industrial action, we need to be decisive and serious. We also need to exert political pressure at all levels.

I am asking for your first preference vote for General Secretary as the candidate with the most experience as an organiser and negotiator at branch and UK level. I've put in the hours, and I understand how UCU works as an institution. I will protect and enhance our democracy and will work with you to improve how we organise and build our branch and sector level campaigns. I will put member voices and needs first.

The current breakdown in industrial relations between UCU's staff union and the senior leadership is a grave issue. We need to take the culture of fear described by UCU staff last week and the connected boycott of UCU equality activities by members of UCU's Black Members' Standing Committee outlined in their statement very seriously. ( (

I will prioritise rebuilding trust and a healthy and functional workplace culture with UCU staff. UCU must model the approach to industrial relations and working conditions we seek for our members.

I am running for General Secretary independent of any faction. My plans do not rely on electing a particular slate to the NEC and I will work hard for every member. Together we can harness our energy and commitment to return to the core activities of a trade union: organising and collective decision-making.

We need a system in which members, elected representatives, and UCU staff work together. Change is a matter of urgency.

Your vote can really make a difference. Please read my manifesto, and please above all, do vote.

In Solidarity,


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Last updated: 20 February 2024