Cath Hepburn (Sunderland College)

Election address

Cath Hepburn, Lecturer in English, Sunderland College.

Trade union service
I have been a member of the NEC and the FEC for four years, representing the Northern Region members, but have been involved in trade unions much longer than that - since the early '90s, both as member and branch representative.  I first joined the GMB when I trained young, disadvantaged adults and this lead to working with Northumbria Probation Service where I saw the vast range of benefits education and training could provide.  The way offenders responded to this 'second chance' was inspiring and led to working in FE, where I have remained for the last 18 years, first at Gateshead College and later Sunderland College, where I currently work as a lecturer in English. 

Since the formation of UCU I have been actively involved and am currently Branch Chair.  For many years I have been UCU Regional FE Secretary, helping to co-ordinate the Northern Region at Congress as well as other national events and demonstrations. We have had disproportionately challenging times in the North of England, but northern wit and comradeship have led to a strong regional committee which is supportive and vigorous - we will need this when we face the area reviews.

Election address
Through a series of punitive funding cuts and redundancies we are expected to work harder, doing more teaching and administration, for less pay.  Workload and stress is compounded by FE managers who want to observe what we are doing in the classroom over and over again. 

It should be acknowledged that FE lecturers play a vital role in the training and up-skilling of the UK population and economy.   We should be treated as professionals and equally, paid as professionals. We should feel valued and respected and should enjoy our work as well as our free-time.  I will continue to work hard with college managers, MPs and the wider public, to build alliances and remind them that FE has a vital role in rebuilding the UK economy. 

If I could sum up my reasons for standing - they would be to;

  • Support the needs of FE members at the grass roots by fighting hardest for the causes that matter most - such as pensions, pay, and terms and conditions.
  • Act as an independent voice for the most important people in the union - the ordinary members - and make sure our views are put on the national agenda.
  • Fight against the cuts undermining further education.
  • Continue the Pay+ campaign which has gained benefits for members in several Northern branches.

I count my strengths as integrity, communication and positivity and hope that you have read enough to want to support my election.


Last updated: 1 February 2016