All out for USS

Paul Errington (Teesside University)


Election address

I have been an active Trade Union member for 40 years and I am currently vice chair of Teesside University, where I am senior lecturer in Physiotherapy in the School of Health and as such have strong interests in disability issues facing members. I am presently a current Branch Delegate to the Northern Regional Committee HE Section and I am presently the elected Northern Regional Training Officer on the regional executive committee. It is my belief that we must become more strategic as a union as we are faced with the increasingly aggressive move towards corporate-university models, a move which has been accompanied by ever increasing student fees denying many of the right to education and making it more of a privilege. This move has also ensured that universities are competing with each other for profits, whilst the employers association UCEA has continued its government led attack on our pay and pensions. I passionately believe that OUR union is just that, the memberships, and should not be one that is open to political hijacking from whatever political position that one adopts. Democracy and listening to the membership's wishes are paramount and it befits any member elected to the NEC to abide by the democratic wishes demonstrated by the membership via the ballot box. As an elected branch officer I am fully aware that the purpose of leadership during any dispute is to achieve gains for the members and not to lead members blindly into defeats. Defeats only lead to a stronger and more empowered and belligerent employer enabling further attacks on the members. I believe that we should focus our attention to core trade union issues and principals which include:

  • Job security including pay and conditions;
  • Anti Casualisation;
  • Support for individual members through the collective;
  • Equality issues;
  • Professional autonomy and academic freedom;
  • Open governance within our universities;
  • Effective campaigning against increasing workloads
  • Defending the National Contract

UCU along with other unions in HE will be faced with numerous attacks on all of the above, especially if faced with another coalition government. Our colleagues such as teachers in local schools and those who work in FE have borne the brunt of what is clearly to come to the HE sector. Many government proposals are for more private providers to enter higher education, more customer satisfaction surveys, more micro-management of fees and grants at the same time as allowing courses (and possibly institutions) to close in an allegedly self-regulating market. It will take vigorous campaigns by UCU and other education unions, also students and other university staff who will need to combine mass imaginative actions to defend of our sector over the coming years.

Last updated: 1 February 2016