Archive article from The Socialist Issue 466
Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/2006/466/pp43.htm
UCU: Left victory in sight
THE FOUNDING conference of the UCU Left - the broad left of the new university and college lecturers' union - has marked a key step forward by overwhelmingly endorsing Roger Kline for the forthcoming general secretary elections.
Dave Beale, Manchester University UCU, personal capacity
Over 100 activists were at the conference in Manchester on 25 November and the decisions are of particular significance. The outcome of the general secretary's election, to be held early in the new year, will be decisive for the direction of the University and College Union (UCU) over the next five years. It is of great importance for academic workers in both further and higher education.
The higher education section of the union, now representing lecturers, researchers and academic-related staff in all universities, went through a bitter pay dispute earlier this year. The 'old' university side of the union, under the leadership of the AUT and Sally Hunt, unexpectedly settled at a critical stage in the dispute. This caused uproar - and many sections of the union blame Sally Hunt and are determined to ditch her in the current general secretary elections.
Peter Jones is the third candidate in these elections, commands considerable respect, is active in the UCU Left and also addressed the conference. However, the consensus of the UCU Left conference was to endorse Roger Kline's candidature, although quite rightly there were no blank cheques on offer to him. It is hoped that Peter Jones will now step down as a candidate, avoiding a split vote on the left.
All UCU activists who want to see a new, fighting union that seriously challenges the employers and government policy, in both the further and higher education sectors and on international issues, should now campaign for Roger Kline's election. However, this represents only the beginning of a critical new stage in increasing industrial conflict in FE and HE institutions, and greater union links and strength in joint struggles affecting the respective sectors of post-16 education. These have the potential to link up with students' demands and wider political campaigns.