Aditya Chakrabortty, Senior Economics Commentator, The Guardian
Jane Aitchison, Leeds TUC President
Michael Carley, University of Bath UCU President; UCU National Executive
Dima Chami, Leeds UCU Equalities Officer
John Fones, Bridgwater & Taunton College UCU Chair; Bridgwater TUC Vice Chair
Theo Freedman, Leeds Students Support UCU (Former Leeds University Student)
Timothy Goodall, Leeds UCU Vice-President
Nick Hardy, University of Birmingham UCU Pensions Officer; editor, USS Briefs
Amy Jowett, Hackney ACE Branch Sec; Current Chair of Anti-Casualisation Committee; National Executive Committee 2015-2018
Sam Morecroft, UCU ACC; UCU Yorks and Humber Regional Executive
Liz Morrish, Independent Linguistics scholar; author, Academic Irregularities
Samantha Newbery, Salford UCU member
Catherine Oakley, UCU Anti-Casualisation Committee (2018-2019), co-author ‘The Precarious Postdoc: Interdisciplinary Research and Casualised Labour in the Humanities and Social Sciences’, co-founder, the academic precariat
Robyn Orfitelli, Sheffield UCU Communications Officer
Claire Osborn, UCU Telford College Joint Chair
Christina Paine, London Met UCU Branch Secretary; UCU National Executive
Ben Plumpton, Leeds UCU Membership Officer
Josh Robinson, Cardiff UCU Lead Negotiator
Julia Steinberger, Leeds UCU member
James Sumner, Manchester UCU member
Peter Tennant, Leeds UCU branch committee
Elaine White, Bradford College UCU branch rep; UCU National Executive

Aditya Chakrabortty, Senior Economics Commentator and columnist at The Guardian

As the Guardian’s senior economics commentator, I write regularly on the marketization of our universities and the implications that has for staff, students and our public finances. In 2016, I was co-author of a front page story for the Guardian on how over half of academics manage on some form of insecure, non-permanent contract.

In my reporting on higher education, I have found Vicky over the years to be a passionate and dedicated advocate for staff rights. She knows from personal experience what it’s like to be exploited and stuck on casual contracts. She understands the professional frustrations of young and mid-career academics.

As well as being heavily engaged in her branch at Leeds, she keeps tabs on disputes across the country. And she brings to industrial organising a welcome energy and enthusiasm. I wish her all the best in standing for UCU VP.

Jane Aitchison, Leeds TUC President

Vicky Blake is an inspirational trade unionist who has transformed her branch in Leeds by really engaging and involving members and recruiting more. She’s a powerful and energetic force for good in the trade union movement. She’d make a brilliant Vice President.

Michael Carley, University of Bath UCU President; UCU National Executive (UK-elected HE representative)

Vicky Blake is a long-standing UCU activist who has taken a principled, sound position on everything that matters for years. Before casualization in Higher Education became notorious, she was fighting back against the Sports Direct management style creeping through the sector. At branch level and as a national officer, she organized and inspired people to resist the destruction of decent working conditions. She has survived years of casual contracts, and now lives her values by working in widening participation.

Vicky is not now and has never been part of any faction inside our union, so she has had to organize and build real alliances without the aid of prefabricated networks. She has had to stake out her own positions, in the face of opposition from one side or another, and has had the courage and integrity to stick to those positions and make progress using the union values of solidarity and persistence.

Vicky has the organizational ability to lead and revitalize our union; she also has the charisma and public presence to inspire it. Her multiple media appearances on behalf of your union during recent disputes attest to her ability to represent our movement at his best and most articulate.

I nominated Vicky for her independence and her integrity, and her ability to inspire and lead. She has long stood by and for the worst-off members of our union, because it was the right thing to do, not for any thought of personal advancement.

Vote for Vicky Blake, as the one independent candidate in this election.

Dima Chami, Leeds UCU Equalities Officer

My involvement with the union coincided with the moment my exhaustion from being a BME migrant in academia finally came to a head, forcing on me various forms of exclusions which — at the time— I had no words for, but Vicky so formidably did. It was at an informal meeting on casualisation, organised for PGRs- where I vented all my frustration and anger at the unjust university system which silently and disproportionally targets, excludes and harasses international students and migrant staff. Vicky turned that indignation into action: less than 24hours later, my vent became a motion, which Vicky co-wrote with me, on the phone, via email, at 9pm while she was in a supermarket.

I had thought up until that moment that UCU was a union for British and EU academics and academic-related staff, but Vicky showed me that this is not true, and that UCU is actually a union for everybody. This was a very powerful moment for me, politically, to encounter intersectional solidarity. I’d heard of it so much during my time in the U.K but rarely came across it in practice.

Today, I am the youngest ever and first casualised Equality Officer for Leeds UCU, as an international PGR who previously knew nothing of unions structures or how they work. Vicky patiently, tirelessly, explained and guided me. Her support has enabled me to be fully active in a union where my voice can be heard. Alongside colleagues who are also BME and WOC, I am currently working on a campaign to amend UCU’s structures so it represents migrants, which until now has been a historical blindsight of UCU’s. Whatever happens with this campaign, it is undeniable that there are diverse and transformative voices within UCU today. This is in no part thanks to UCU’s existing structures which had so far been inaccessible to non UK and EU members, but absolutely down to someone like Vicky who fights, unrepentantly, on so many different fronts to include everybody. As an unaligned candidate, Vicky has been able to present a future vision for UCU as a union which is inclusive for those who have so far been invisible to UCU, especially those who have been silenced politically across different platforms. With a new hope, my endorsement is based on the fact that Vicky’s fight to amplify those voices is a fight for a transformative, combative and democratised union. #Vicky4vp!

John Fones, Bridgwater & Taunton College UCU Chair; Bridgwater TUC Vice Chair

I believe that Vicky Blake has the necessary experience and the perspective to help guide the union through the next four years.

Many of you will have met Vicky, perhaps with Jo McNeill at various hustings and on picket lines, whether during the USS dispute in HE or more recently supporting us on FE picket lines during the current FE Pay Dispute – #FEFightsback.

A major plank in the struggle for increased rights in both HE and FE is the Anti-Casualisation campaign. Vicky has personal experience of precarious contracts and is a vociferous promoter of better conditions and contracts for hourly paid staff, often our lowest paid and least secure colleagues.

We can see from her attention to our FE campaigns and her clear wish to meet as many colleagues as possible in hustings, that she knows all about the effort required to maintain a campaign and she will not stint from leading UCU campaigns on behalf of others.

Many of us have heard Vicky or seen her speaking at meetings or in various media outlets such as the BBC R4 Today programme during the USS dispute. Those of us who have heard her or worked alongside her, know that Vicky will do her utmost to work for UCU campaigns and here in Bridgwater and Taunton College, where hourly contracts are at a very high density, should be pleased to call her an ally and a friend.

I am voting:
Vicky Blake – 1
Jo McNeill – 2

Theo Freedman, Leeds Students Support UCU (Former Leeds University Student)

Vicky is a tireless campaigner and embodies everything that is good about trade unionism and human solidarity. During the UCU pension reform actions in early 2018, I got to know Vicky and her indomitable work ethic, decency and organisational prowess. During these industrial actions, she was at the forefront of establishing student-worker solidarity and creating a movement in Leeds which was truly empowering, useful and showed the greatest elements of socialist endeavour.

It is an honour to know Vicky and a privilege to endorse her. I have no doubt that a vote for her is a vote for kindness, dignity and unwavering solidarity.

Timothy Goodall, Leeds UCU Vice-President

I worked very closely with Vicky, in 2016/17 when I was branch President and Vicky was branch VP. Having gone straight from being a committee member to being President, the first few months were daunting but Vicky supported me so well through that time. In 2017/18, we swapped roles and Vicky became branch President. As branch President, Vicky has brought so many new members into UCU and encouraged and enthused them into getting involved in local union structures and campaigns. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone work so hard – Vicky has worked tirelessly for the rights of casualised members for several years and has also managed to contribute to so many other campaigns. Vicky has been incredibly supportive to me and to our local UCU Officers, Committee and members, while also doing so much work at a national level. I wholeheartedly endorse Vicky for national Vice President.

Nick Hardy, University of Birmingham UCU Pensions Officer; editor, USS Briefs; candidate for UCU National Executive Committee, Midlands area

Vicky is my first choice for VP (HE) of UCU. Her track record shows she has what it takes to guide us through four years that will be very challenging and volatile for post-18 education. She understands how crucial job security is in the fight for better working conditions, and as a member of the NEC and Anti-Casualisation Committee she has worked hard to put casualised members at the centre of UCU’s national campaigns. She’s also shown a strong commitment to making UCU’s national structures more accessible, accountable, and representative of members, particularly during critical moments in the USS dispute. Vicky has an intuitive understanding of what makes university staff tick and I look forward to working alongside her on the NEC and HEC.

Amy Jowett, Hackney ACE Branch Sec; Current Chair of Anti-Casualisation Committee; National Executive Committee 2015-2018

I first met Vicky Blake when I got involved in UCU through the anti-casualisation campaign. She was a central activist who supported my branch in getting union recognition in order for us to win fractional contracts, in a sector which predominately uses hourly paid contracts. I have worked with Vicky on the NEC and ACC and I am delighted to endorse her for VP, as I know her to be an insightful, independent and inspiring activist and UCU member.

Sam Morecroft, UCU Anti Casualisation Committee and UCU Yorks and Humber Regional Executive

Vicky Blake is one of the hardest working trade union representatives I have ever met. I’ve had the privilege of working alongside her on the Anti-Casualisation Committee which Vicky chaired for several years, and am now working with her on the Democracy Commission. Because Vicky was casualised for years herself and a representative of casualised staff, she understands the challenges the most hyper-exploited section of our membership face and how to organise to meet these challenges. But Vicky also understands for us to win victories and build our power, we need a democratic, member led and campaigning union.

One of Vicky’s best qualities is that she understands that strike action is our most powerful weapon, unlike many of our national leaders in UCU, but also that this weapon must be used effectively and strategically. She knows we build our members confidence and win victories through patient ballot campaigns and serious industrial action, not by tokenistic displays of opposition. Vicky Blake has shown this in her leadership of both local and national industrial disputes, and is an excellent candidate for Vice President of our union.

Liz Morrish, independent Linguistics scholar, author of Academic Irregularities blog

Vicky Blake is standing for Vice President of UCU. She is a committed campaigner against casualization, and for secure, sustainable careers in HE and FE. She also stands for defending democracy in UCU. I met Vicky when she invited me to speak at a rally in Leeds during the USS strikes of 2018. Her energy and endurance during that campaign were phenomenal. Her organising skills were brilliant and she was able to motivate pickets to keep coming back, day after day, in the snow. The dispute is still unresolved, of course, and that is why UCU must have people who can lead the membership and promote unity and solidarity. I endorse Vicky Blake because I have seen those qualities in action.

Samantha Newbery, Salford UCU member

Vicky is the perfect candidate for Vice-President of UCU. She will continue to serve all members to the very best of her ability, and all who know her have no doubt that she is a very able trade unionist and leader.

Throughout the years that I have been following Vicky’s career she has been dedicated to tackling injustice faced by the UCU’s diverse membership. Through the senior roles she has held in the union – and the endless hours she has invested in them – she has developed extensive knowledge of the workings of UCU, of its structures, its strengths, and where it can be improved for the benefit of all its members.

You only need read the achievements listed in Vicky’s election address to see proof of her ability to lead UCU.

Catherine Oakley, UCU Anti-Casualisation Committee (2018-2019), co-author ‘The Precarious Postdoc: Interdisciplinary Research and Casualised Labour in the Humanities and Social Sciences’, co-founder, the academic precariat

I first met Vicky in January 2018 at an informational session on the USS strikes for precariously-employed staff at my institution. I was 11 months into a 12-month fixed-term contract which was at odds with the objectives of my research and engagement role and which was proving harmful to my health. As local branch president, Vicky responded to the alienation I felt and my fears around the prospect of going on strike with recognition, empathy and tailored support for my situation. Her absolute dedication to her work for the union and her strong sense of democratic responsibility in her various official roles were clear from that first encounter. Over the course of 14 days of industrial action, she worked tirelessly both locally and nationally to facilitate creativity and solidarity on the picket lines, and to ensure that the voices of precarious staff were fully incorporated into debates and decision-making.

With Vicky’s encouragement, I put myself forward for UCU’s Anti-Casualisation Committee. It was there that the full extent of her legacy on the issue of casualisation both within and outside the union became clear. Discourse around precarity in HE has grown exponentially since the strike. But Vicky has been campaigning around the issue for years, working to amplify the prevalence of insecure work and its many detrimental human costs. I was a relatively new union member and Vicky took me under her wing. At the eventful 2018 UCU Congress, I saw her balance multiple views and competing pressures with integrity, guided by her core belief in the central importance of a democratic-led union accountable to its members.

Vicky is one of the most selfless individuals I have ever met. Although I have now left HE and UCU, I remain keenly invested in the future of both the sector and the union. My endorsement for Vicky is rooted in my familiarity with her professional union work, and in the privilege of calling her a true friend.

Robyn Orfitelli, Sheffield UCU Communications Officer

I wholeheartedly endorse Vicky Blake as my first ranked candidate for UCU VP, as a very strong left-wing activist and leader in our union. First, Vicky is one of the most tireless campaigners I’ve met in UCU. She’s the president of Leeds UCU, HEC rep, co-chair of the democracy commission — frankly, just go look at this list of her UCU service, it’s immense, and I can’t do justice to it here.

Vicky also works to bring UCU issues into public awareness, especially during the USS strike, At the same time as we campaign from within our sector, we need to be changing the public and political culture that surrounds it, and I trust Vicky to be a leader on both fronts.

Just some of the campaigns Vicky has been a part of on a local & national level include the fight to end casualisation, to close the gender pay gap, and increase professional services representation in the union. Vicky was instrumental in supporting and expanding the Anti-Casualisation Committee, which has played a huge part in raising awareness of precarious labour in HE/FE, providing support to local branches making claims, and developing a national UCU anti-cas strategy. The anti-cas campaign is a part of who Vicky is, and I cannot imagine anyone in UCU fighting harder for the rights of precarious staff than she will. She’s currently working with international staff networks to campaign for our rights in HE/FE, and as someone on a tier 2 visa, that’s a particularly important issue for me.

Most importantly, Vicky is an extremely effective campaigner & leader. She identifies problems & then actively reaches out to impacted members to *involve them* in finding solutions. In doing so, she makes the democratic structures of UCU accessible, inclusive, & transparent. This is the type of bottom-up organising that I want to see UCU moving towards. We need leadership at all levels (branch and nationally) that aims to involve and include activists, and to always err on the side of making UCU more inclusive and transparent.

I am voting:
Vicky Blake – 1
Jo McNeill – 2

Claire Osborn, Joint Branch Chair UCU Telford College

I first encountered Vicky some years ago in left-wing activist groups online. Often, these groups see people reaching out for support and advice, and we would frequently find ourselves helping with workplace and employment law issues. It was from there we ascertained we were in fact members of the same union.

Vicky has, over the last couple of years, without ever actually having met me in person, supported me in my role as Branch Chair. Vicky has been a sounding board for guidance on case work, dispute procedures and protocols and a good listening ear when I have felt overwhelmed through a difficult period for the college as it went through financial problems, merger, seemingly endless interim leadership and OFSTED visits. That additional support, when the resources of our Regional Offices are so stretched, has been invaluable to both me and my branch.

Vicky’s campaigning and hard-won successes for members both locally and nationally are testament to her drive and commitment to members, and I believe the support and solidarity Vicky has shown towards me is indicative of the spirit of unity and collaboration that UCU needs now. We, as a union need to move past the factionalism which can disengage the grassroots member and is at risk of damaging our union. As a genuinely independent candidate, who has a clear and obvious passion to prioritise the job security and wellbeing of members across both HE, and FE I believe Vicky is the right choice to put members’ interests first.

Christina Paine, London Met UCU Branch Secretary; UCU National Executive (HE Casualised Staff Rep

I have worked closely with Vicky for 6 years on the UCU Anti-casualisation Committee. When I joined that committee I was an isolated and marginalised worker looking for a way that I could make a difference. I was new to the trade union. Vicky introduced me to anti-casualisation and empathised strongly with my situation. She inspired me to take up the cause of casualisation and I have done so to the best of my ability and with the dedicated purpose I have learnt from the ACC and from Vicky’s leadership. She is an inspiring trade unionist, full of creativity and inspiration and strength.

Most importantly however she has compassion for those who are marginalised and disadvantaged coupled with an understanding and a fighting spirit which means she stands strong in her beliefs and values. I know that Vicky will never give up the fight for the casualised; she has always fought, and has demonstrated magnificently in her branch at Leeds she will continue to inspire all members to action to defend terms, conditions and the deep principles of trade unionism we all hold so dear and live by.

Now I have taken on Vicky’s role on the NEC as HE casualised rep and I do so in the spirit, compassion and strength that she inspired in me. When you have been a marginalised casualised worker it takes more courage than one might understand to rise up alongside your brothers and sisters. This Vicky has and she will use it to defend the rights of a grass roots member led union which puts members interests and justice first. She is principled and incredibly strong and will seek to unite all members to a common goal of compassion and justice. I endorse Vicky fully for the VP role and I know she will fight for us with all she has. She remembers the casualisation scar too deeply to ever do anything else.

I have the utmost respect for Jo McNeil and would support her as our next general secretary. Both Jo and Vicky are great leaders which our trade union needs. On this occasion however I am voting for Vicky #1 and Jo #2 in the VP election for all the reasons given above.

Ben Plumpton, Leeds UCU Membership Officer

Over the last few years I’ve become more involved in Leeds UCU, and Vicky is a big large part of the reason for that. She is committed and energetic, and her enthusiasm and determination to make things better for our members is inspirational.

Vicky’s chairing of our branch General Meetings is exemplary – clear, inclusive and thorough. She ensures everyone knows what’s going on, explains any UCU jargon or rules, and leads the meetings through big agendas despite limited time and differences of opinion, in such a way that no-one feels marginalised or that their concerns have been left out. She also has experience of chairing national UCU committees, which I’m sure she does equally effectively. As an independent member of the National Executive Committee she tries to reach past the factional differences and find ways to really make progress on the big issues UCU faces, like casualisation and gender pay gaps. I think she would be a brilliant Vice President and then President of UCU.

Josh Robinson, Cardiff UCU Lead Negotiator

I’ve known Vicky since we were both active in UCU’s anti-casualization campaign, in which I was active as a graduate student and then a research fellow on a fixed-term contract. We’ve both moved a fair amount since then: she’s now in Leeds, and I’m now in Cardiff, and we’re both very active in our branches. Cardiff UCU has been transformed in recent years, in particular as a consequence of the ongoing USS dispute: we’re currently ballotting for local industrial action, alongside the UK-wide ballot, in defence of jobs, while management look to cut costs. The thought of our branch taking local action would have been unimaginable only a few years ago, and we’ve drawn inspiration from much of the work Vicky and her colleagues have carried out at Leeds, striking against threats to job security–and also from the ways in which other branches such as Leicester and Brighton have resisted the threat of redundancies.

I’m supporting Vicky in her campaign to be elected Vice-President because I think she has represents the best prospect of continuing to transform our union into an inclusive, campaigning union that is able to defend the interests of all its members. She’s fiercely independent, and driven by a commitment to fight for secure work and manageable workloads across the sectors in which UCU organizes. Her list of priorities — including opposing the Hostile Environment in solidarity with our increasingly poorly treated international colleagues, safety for prison educators, opposing structural discrimination in education, tackling outsourcing and its detrimental effects, opposing downgrading and seeking to ensure proper professional development for all colleagues, fighting casualisation — echo my sense of we should be working on together. The leadership that she’s shown and continues to show in the Anti-Casualisation Committee, in the strikes at Leeds, and most recently and as co-chair of the Democracy Commission, testify to her ability to make positive changes to UCU, enabling us to fight together for improved working conditions.

Obviously Vicky is one of three candidates in this election, and I don’t want to denigrate either of the the others, either directly or implicitly. I’ve got a great deal of respect for Jo (indeed, I voted for her when she stood for GS of our union), and while my sense of the kind of union UCU ought to be (and the kind of leadership it needs) differ from Adam’s, I don’t doubt that he’s motivated by a commitment to what he thinks the membership wants, which he pursues with integrity. What I do want to say, though, is that I think Vicky represents the dynamic, thoughtful and collaborative leadership that I think UCU needs at the moment. On the Anti-Casualisation Committee she developed an effective strategy that carried out hard-hitting media work, informed by effectively targeted research, in order to address casualisation both with the employers and in the broader policy context; without this work, I don’t think we’d have seen anything like the numbers of casualised colleagues on the picket lines in the USS dispute. I very much hope that UCU has the chance further to grow and develop under her leadership.

Julia Steinberger, Leeds UCU member

Vicky Blake demonstrates what is possible with principled, inclusive and innovative leadership. She consistently prioritises high quality democratic processes and transparency. She is a champion of anti-casualisation and the struggle against the metrics-driven neoliberal university, and against the constant erosion of the core mission of our work: serving society through education, training and

Vicky is a tireless, creative, careful and inspiring organiser, as well as a dedicated and strategic fighter. She kept us together and grew the union during a punishing and cold strike, and faced down a very hostile management. I endorse her wholeheartedly.

James Sumner, longtime Manchester UCU member

Vicky’s greatest strengths are the skill and tireless hard work she puts into informing, and listening to, ordinary grassroots members. And if there’s one thing we need above all right now, it’s clear communication and dialogue across the whole of the union.

I’m probably typical of a lot of UCU members who don’t have much of a history of involvement with branch activities, but saw a real need for strong collective action around the time of the Big Strike. I was by turns enthused by the action’s successes and the possibilities they opened up, and frustrated by the confusion and uncertainties about how national policy was actually being made and delivered. Throughout, Vicky stood out as someone doing everything in her power to inform and consult us, on social media and in person, bearing the full force of our often naïve questions and comments with the aid of a slightly broken smartphone, a network of smart colleagues, and a highly
evolved sense of responsibility.

I also recommend Vicky to you as someone who is not aligned to either of the traditional power blocs within the union. Although many of our best organisers and negotiators represent one side or the other, it’s an unfortunate truth that factionalism – whose basis is often bewildering to grassroots members – has had some serious negative consequences lately, particularly in the chaotic shutdown of the 2018 Congress. Vicky can work with anyone. In the Leeds UCU branch, where she has been President since 2017, she has reached out widely to build a cohesive, informed and active campaigning community.

Vicky is, finally, particularly well placed to support the breadth of people in the union overall, as someone on a non-academic contract, particularly attentive to the battles HE shares with FE, and able to speak with some authority on the effects of the casualisation agenda that blights most of our new members’ lives. She is my first choice as a candidate who will put members’ interests first.

Peter Tennant, Leeds UCU branch committee

I’d like to endorse Vicky for the UCU Vice President. Not because she asked me (I volunteered). Or because I’m meant to (I still haven’t got my head around UCU ‘faction’ stuff). But because I’ve been fortunate to know Vicky, as a friend, a colleague and a leader; and I cannot imagine a stronger or more inspiring president for our union.

I’ve been a member of the UCU for several years, but I wasn’t really involved until the Great USS Pension Strike of 2018. As my first experience of strike action, I initially found it very daunting. But Vicky’s friendliness, enthusiasm, and genuine interest in hearing everyone’s views helped me feel welcome and valued. Since then, I’ve been struck by her tireless efforts to seek out, understand, and represent the views of ordinary members. She frequently invites – and recieves – messages (by email and social media) from people who can’t attend meetings or are too shy to share their views in public. And she always takes the time to explain the various confusing union processes, to help ordinary members stay engaged.

Vicky is clearly driven by a deep concern for the welfare of others. Together with her warmth, wit, and wisdom, this makes her a formidable advocate and activist. For many years, she has championed anti-casualisation; dragging it from the periphery of our union’s vision to the heart of the current reballot. For younger members, this is no minor shift. As a junior researcher on repeated short term contracts, I found it very hard to relate to a union that seemed only ever concerned with pay and pensions. They seemed like a huge luxury against the existential worry of a forever uncertain future. I am proud that casualisation is now the forefront of our union’s mind, and thankful to Vicky for everything she’s done to achieve this.

More recently, Vicky has been directing her energies into democratic reform, co-chairing our union’s new democracy commission. With her involved, I am hopeful for our future as a more effective and more representative union. But if she became president, I believe we’d all have more of a voice in making and shaping that future

Elaine White, UCU National Executive (Further Education women’s representative), casualised ESOL teacher and Bradford College UCU branch rep

When I think of Vicky Blake the trade unionist, I think grassroots campaigner, communicator and do-er. I met her through the Anti-Casualisation Committee and currently work with her on the NEC. And I know what she has achieved and what she could achieve if given the chance in this election for Vice-President.
Precarious work is one of the biggest industrial issues facing us in education and throughout all industries today. Especially for younger workers.

I know Vicky has lived the precarious existence until quite recently and from that view actively fights precarity side-by-side with us who are still living it now. If Vicky becomes UCU president then I think this will be a great signal to show that UCU is getting serious about fighting casualisation which will make the union a more attractive place for younger trade unionists and activists and will make a positive impact on the wider trade union movement.

Vicky practices solidarity in words and in action. As she is someone who works in HE, she is still very conscious of the issues we face in FE which she demonstrated recently when she went out of her way in November to bring solidarity to our pay strike picket.

She also campaigns on and attends demos on a number of issues including women’s reproductive rights, anti-austerity campaigns and actions, freedom of movement and anti-fascist campaigns which are all important campaigns for UCU members and is important that UCU activists are at these events.

I am in UCU Left but on this occasion I am supporting Vicky who is unaligned but no less a fighter for workers’ rights and solidarity. I am supporting her this year because I think her skills, experiences and values are the right ones to have in the presidential team this year and would complement the excellent work done by the current FE VP Nita Sanghera. Vicky has a proven track record of supporting, organising and leading serious industrial action and her media experience makes her well placed for publicity and getting our campaigns out to a wider audience.

She is principled and democratic and collaborative to her core and ensures that she has uses every channel to communicate with as many members as possible to explain her position and listen to others and I believe at this present time her ability to bring different voices together will support making our union a stronger, more open, more democratic, fighting and winning union.

I am voting Vicky Blake 1, Jo McNeill 2