Fighting together for USS

Sarah Guymer (Lowestoft College)

Election address

I am currently a Variable Hours lecturer at Lowestoft College, Suffolk and I am standing for the NEC in order to give more of a voice to those members in the Eastern & Home Counties region and those who work in smaller colleges

I have been the chair of the Lowestoft College UCU branch since late 2011, as well as representing, organising and defending members as branch secretary, negotiator and case worker.

During that time, Lowestoft College has seen a number of changes which have included contract modification and 4 redundancy consultations, 3 of which were in the last academic year. Given the current funding cuts in the FE sector, this is going to be a likely occurrence, not only in the East, but nationwide. My first-hand experience of opposing, organising to minimise the effects of redundancy and rebuilding after it will, I think, be of value to the work of the FEC within the context of national industrial campaigns and strategies.

Lowestoft College was one of the first Further Education Institutions to undergo the Area Review process alongside Great Yarmouth College, and we are currently in the implementation stage of this procedure. The policy of Area Review will bring major changes to the Further Education sector resulting in fewer, larger colleges, specialisation in curriculum with less choice for learners and inevitable redundancies My experience in this area would, I believe enable me to make a valuable contribution to the work of the FEC on the issues.

I have sat on the UCU national Anti-Casualisation Committee and have campaigned and negotiated against the use of casual contracts in my own branch.

I feel strongly about the increased workloads and subsequent stresses experienced by members in the FE sector and believe that only a national campaign surrounding these issues will bring success. Pay and increments are paramount, particularly when the AoC has made an offer of a 0% pay rise, resulting in an effective pay reduction of 17% for the majority of FE lecturers.

The future however, brings us even more challenges than just pay by itself. The Government's Trade Union Bill will have a real effect on our ability to fight the increasing attacks upon us. There will be an even more pressing need for the FEC to focus its priorities and union resources on building membership, supporting branches and in giving members the confidence in their ability to stand united, take the necessary action and be effective in tackling the challenges facing them.

Last updated: 1 February 2016