Josh Robinson, Cardiff UCU president
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.