The good ship UCU has been without a steer on the wheel since October last year. The imminent election for general secretary presents an opportunity to turn the rudder and plot a new course.
Whoever wins is a servant to the union, a servant to masters in both higher and further education. The truth is that whoever wins there isn’t much to laugh about in either sector; excepting Vice Chancellor perks and Principals’ pay.
If the climate is inclement the necessary directions are clear: jettison tuition fees; make access to education a right not a debt; support and reward the staff who make a difference; protect and maintain pension funds; bankroll additional recruitment to reduce workload and endemic stress; decommission Ofsted; reject TEF and REF; discard punitive performance management; invest in meaningful cpd; direct pathways of development; equip classrooms and lecture theatres; command and sustain educators for the professionals they are.
Education has been nearly broken by the kahuna, by the very worst froth of neo-liberal, free market politics and this branch believes there is only one candidate – Matt Waddup – with the raft of experience necessary to set a course to push back and win.
And not just that. Campaigning and negotiations matter, but then there’s the rest of the general secretary’s duties too: executive boards, conflict resolution, governance, lobbying ministers, representing our interests to the press and knowing UCU’s policy on everything from casualisation to climate change, riding from breaker to wave.
To be general secretary is effectively to be the CEO of a multimillion pound turnover organisation, funded by our subscriptions, and with the purpose to represent our interests.
In our view, only one candidate has the confidence to skipper this vessel and prevent it from running aground (or being captured by pirates). Which is why Newcastle College Branch is supporting Matt.