Jimmy Donaghey (University of Warwick)

Election address

I am currently Professor of Industrial Relations at the University of Warwick, having previously worked at QUB and Ulster.  Since becoming active in UCU over a decade ago, I've held a number of positions at Warwick and QUB including Local Association President, Vice-President, Assistant Secretary and Local Issues Secretary. At national level, I was on the NEC from 2009-2015, vice chair Higher Education Committee, 2013-2015, member of USS JNC 2012-current and USS Superannuation Working Group 2010-current.

I believe in standing for election to the NEC, I am broadly typical of the bulk of UCU members: I'm a left-of-centre, Labour voter who, on the whole, wants to get on with my job of research and teaching and to help others do the same.

Empty posturing, however militant, does members no favours. The use of industrial action may be necessary to achieve our goals, but only as a last resort rather than first step: The sole purpose of industrial action is to force change in the negotiating environment, facilitating the achievement of real gains for members.   Action which does not have strong support of members, with clear attainable objectives, merely demonstrates weakness. Members of the NEC must be honest with members about what can be achieved.

This was the approach I took in my role as Chair of the UCU side of the JNC in the recent difficult changes to USS. The deal is not ideal.  However, compared to the initial proposals of the employers, the final proposal was an improvement. It also brought significant improvements to those who joined the scheme since 2011. It was right to go back to members for their opinion on the revised deal before committing to serious industrial action as, due to the framework within which we were operating, it was difficult to see how further improvements could have been achieved, even with strong industrial action. It was necessary to be honest to members and say we could not see how further improvements could be achieved.  

What needs to be the agenda for UCU going forward? 

The UCU membership want to come to a hospitable work environment and get paid fairly. When this is not present, UCU plays a vital role in defending members at collective and individual level. Branches must be given the maximum resource to defend members at local level.

I will continue to prioritise the key industrial issues:

  • job security;
  • pensions;
  • pay;
  • equality;
  • Teaching Excellence Framework;
  • grade deflation, particularly for AR members.

Resources must be concentrated on these key industrial issues that unite the membership and where we can have real effect.  Fringe issues and issues on which members are divided deter potential members and weaken UCU. 

Last updated: 1 February 2016