All out for USS

It's not too late! Universities UK can still commit to meaningful negotiations over pensions and end the strike action.

Michael McKrell (University of Central Lancashire)

post-92

Election address

•   Senior Lecturer in the School of Journalism, Media and Performance, University of Central Lancashire. 

•   Branch Committee member since 2007, Branch Chair 2011-17.

•   Other branch positions: caseworker, Health & Safety rep, Environment rep, Membership Secretary. Previously Vice Chair.

•   Regional Committee delegate since 2011; HE Secretary 2016-17

•   NEC member 2015-17: Worked on Recruitment, Organising and Campaigning Committee and Legal Support Review Panel. Chair of Legal Panel 2016-17

•   Vice-President, Preston Trades Council 2014-present

•   Delegate to NW TUC 2015-2018

As a branch officer and caseworker in a thriving branch, I appreciate how much members value branch reps who advise and represent them on workplace issues ranging from workload, stress, and casualised contracts to equality issues, promotion and career progression. These are the issues that most concern our members and they should always be the primary focus of our efforts as a union. They are, after all, the reasons why most members decide to join UCU.   

But the challenges members face are not just down to bad managers or rogue employers. Universities are under pressure to jostle for position in league tables in order to promote their brand and compete in the global HE marketplace. For our members, the result of this pressure is:

•   increased workloads

•   continued squeeze on pay and pensions

•   the prevalence of a 'managerialist' culture which deprofessionalizes academics, turning them into 'managers' of lower-graded colleagues on casualised contracts.

All this saps morale, undermines collegiality and threatens the very basis of universities as communities of scholars and learners.

Experience tells me that a strong branch can successfully resist threats to jobs, can defend members' terms and conditions and can win greater security for casualised staff. And, just as members need a well-organised union branch to support them in the workplace, so they urgently need a strong union at UK level to counter attacks on pay and pensions and to defend the value of higher education. These common interests have a far higher priority than sectional political agendas. This means electing an NEC is able to identify and devote resources to those battles that we can and must fight rather than campaigning indiscriminately on every front. It means electing an NEC that listens to members in order to win and retain support for action amongst the broad membership and not just seasoned activists.

If re-elected to the NEC I will contribute to building such a union, one willing to build alliances with others so we can push back against those interests which threaten HE and are driving the attacks on pay, pensions and our terms and conditions. If you agree, then please re-elect me to the NEC.

Last updated: 1 February 2018