Michael Carley (University of Bath)

Election address

I am a Senior Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Bath and have been active in the union since I began working in the UK in 2000. I have been vice-president and president of my branch, Health and Safety convenor, and local negotiator, and since last year have chaired the South West regional committee, where I have served as a delegate since it was founded. I have attended Congress and Conference on a number of occasions over the last decade. I am a fairly typical trade unionist who has taken on roles in an active branch. Professionally, I am a mid-career middle-ranking academic old enough to worry about his pension but young enough to be stuck in the job for a couple of decades yet. I am not a member of any faction within the union.

UCU has two linked priorities: the protection and improvement of working conditions for staff, and the defence of higher education as a central part of a decent society.

UCU's purpose as a trade union is to defend its members from the attacks on them by aggressive Vice-Chancellors beating us with whatever new stick is given them by central government. We are reaching a point of no return on pensions: UCU must campaign on USS and if necessary organize industrial action to protect our right to a dignified retirement. It must be prepared to defend the most vulnerable university staff, especially those on casualized contracts. If not, the attack on secure contracts will extend to those of us fortunate enough to be in permanent posts. Finally, we must be prepared to conduct a widespread campaign against the philistine TEF, up to and including boycott.

Defending ourselves and our own conditions should not stop at the campus boundary. The attacks on higher education form part of the generalized attack on a decent society: UCU must make common cause with others within and without the labour movement to defend the idea of a public good. We must be prepared to play a central role in blocking the Tories' anti-union legislation, whether directly or by supporting other workers in their action.

As well as my UCU service, I have been active in my local trades council, coordinating local labour movement campaigns, and in anti-austerity campaigning, helping to keep the labour movement central to the work of local groups. In order to defend education as a public good, and our own legitimate interests with it, we need to build such links with anyone defending the rest of a decent society.

UCU has a responsibility to defend our part of the common good, and to do so, must join with others doing the same.

Last updated: 1 February 2016