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Andrew Price

UCU general secretary election

Vote for Roger Kline

(March 2007)

From The Socialist, No. 476, 1 March 2007.
Transcribed by Iain Dalton.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

LAST YEAR saw the merger of the two main post-school education trade unions, the AUT and NATFHE into the University and College Union (UCU). Currently members are voting for a general secretary and a national executive (NEC).

Three candidates are up for general secretary – Sally Hunt (currently joint general secretary of UCU), Roger Kline (an official heading the union’s Equality and Employment unit) and Pete Jones, a lay activist from the Further Education (FE) sector.

Nearly 14 years after the passing of the infamous Tory Further and Higher Education Act the dire effects of the introduction of market forces into the provision of post-school education are plain to see.

University top up fees, New Labour’s policies will soon mean £10,000 annually with increased problems for working-class students and university funding.

University lecturers today are among the worst paid of all teachers in both school and post-school education.

Only in Wales (where the union is left-led) has pay parity between FE lecturers and school teachers been achieved. In England it is still a long way off. In Northern Ireland our members have recently taken strike action to achieve this goal.

New Labour has actually increased the Tory pressure of privatisation and cuts. Currently our FE members are fighting some appalling attacks on English as a Second Language (ESOL) provision.

Against this background UCU needs a left general secretary who can give the lead all our members need.

Nobody claims that Sally Hunt is a left candidate, and her victory may be welcomed by the employers and by government ministers. Many activists see her hand in the unsatisfactory settlement of the university pay dispute last summer.

Her unprincipled position of “members first and politics second” helps nobody and threatens the work of the union in opposing both the occupation of Iraq and racism and fascism.

Roger Kline and Pete Jones are both left candidates with much to offer. But in this two-horse race between Roger and Sally Hunt a vote for Kline is the best way to avoid a Hunt victory.

For this and other reasons Socialist Party members in UCU call upon all members to vote for Roger Kline. But more importantly we must build a strong union from below that will campaign for a publicly owned and accountable post-school education system, where all workers are properly rewarded.

Andrew Price was member for FE in Wales of the UCU Transitional NEC.

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Last updated: 6 November 2016