Support colleagues fighting back in FE!

Members in HE: please use your vote!

Joanna de Groot (University of York)


Election address

I am a Senior Lecturer in history at the University of York, and a long-standing union activist and negotiator at local and UK level. I joined the NEC in 2008 and became a national officer in 2014, currently serving as UCU's UK President. I am delighted to be standing for election and want to bring my experience of working with and for members on pay, casualisation, and workload problems, and on equality issues, including gender pay inequity, to the work of the NEC.

Currently UCU members face the triple whammy of marketisation, austerity, and aggressive management attempts to deal with those issues at the expense of staff, and of the quality of research and teaching which we do.  In challenging these I believe that we do best for ourselves when we hold onto the following core priorities  :-

  • ensuring that key decisions are backed by the bulk of members, not just enthusiastic activists

  • using ballots, consultations, and a creative range of actions intelligently  to be as effective as possible  in industrial disputes

  • taking the lead in building support and inclusive alliances around our policies

  • focus on shared aims and principles - decent pay and conditions; education as a public good; equality and inclusiveness

In our diverse union, political views obviously vary; the task of activists and leading committees is to unite our union around policies and actions which best serve all members, not personal or sectional agendas. I am not a member of any political party and have a record of working for UCU with colleagues from many parties and none.

UCU members are varied:  we are teachers, administrators, researchers, casualised staff, and professional and technical experts of diverse genders and ethnicities, working in differing institutions and nations. We are most effective when we support the distinctive interests of specific groups while also joining together to pursue common concerns about our jobs and workplaces

As a long-serving branch officer at York, an NEC member, and a national negotiator, I understand how union leaders need to be responsive, inspiring, and supportive to members. As a UCU delegate to the TUC, and a former Trades Council secretary and Regional TUC member, I know the value of union solidarity. As a member of local and national anti-casualisation and equality groups, and as a woman university teacher and researcher, I appreciate the need to support diversity while encouraging maximum unity among our members.

In these difficult times we need to fight smart as well as fight strong, whether defending USS, challenging excessive workloads, or opposing inequity and discrimination. I ask you to vote for me so that I can contribute to taking this vital work in our union forward.

Last updated: 1 February 2018