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From The Socialist newspaper, 8 May 2019

UCU general secretary election: fight for a left leadership!

UCU strikers in Harrogate, 9.5.18, photo Iain Dalton

UCU strikers in Harrogate, 9.5.18, photo Iain Dalton   (Click to enlarge)

Socialist Party members in UCU

The election for general secretary of the University and College Union (UCU), the largest post-16 education union in the world, opened on 29 April.

By now, members should have received ballot papers for what is a crucial point in our union's history.

There are three candidates standing in these elections. Jo McNeill from the University of Liverpool, Jo Grady from the University of Sheffield, and Matt Waddup, a senior official from the union bureaucracy.

Socialist Party members in UCU would urge all members to vote number one for Jo McNeill, the candidate of the UCU Left, and to encourage others to do the same.

McNeill is a longstanding left activist in the union. She has been a consistent voice for a fighting and member-led UCU for many years.

McNeill has pledged in particular to fight for the future of further education, including restoring 'Education Maintenance Allowance' for students, and taking colleges back under democratic local authority control.

We also, however, urge UCU members to give their second preference vote to Jo Grady, a candidate who is also on the left.

Grady has been heavily involved in 'USS Briefs', an important grassroots resource for UCU members, and has played a positive role in the ongoing 'USS' university pensions dispute.

It is unfortunate that there are two left candidates in this election. If Matt Waddup is elected, it would be a setback for the union at a time when our membership is growing and we have had several important and successful disputes in both higher and further education.

Waddup represents a continuation of the existing leadership of the union, which has favoured partnership with the employers over campaigning and fighting to defend post-16 education.

We in the Socialist Party would have preferred to find a way of agreeing on one left candidate, perhaps by holding an open conference of the union left.

However, because this is a 'single transferable vote' election, and members have two votes, it will hopefully be possible to avoid Waddup winning - provided we use both votes to support both 'Jos'!

UCU is at a crossroads. We have made fantastic progress in recent years, in spite of the Tory anti-union laws.

But we need to elect a left, fighting general secretary if we are to build a union that can defend post-16 education, and unite with other unions to boot this rotten Tory government out.

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In The Socialist 8 May 2019:


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