In less than four weeks the ballots are due to be sent out to elect the first general secretary and national executive committee of the recently merged University and College Union (UCU).
Roger Kline is clearly the strongest candidate of the left, standing against Sally Hunt, whose decisions around last year’s pay dispute were seen by many lecturers as selling them short.
Over 40 left candidates are standing for various positions on the national executive.
For a list of who is standing and their election manifestos go to www.uculeft.org
In a number of colleges activists are coming together to discuss how to organise the highest possible vote for the left in these elections.
They are organising meetings, petitions and hustings with the three general secretary candidates. The ballot closes on 7 March.
Celia, a lecturer in Bristol told Socialist Worker. “I went round the canteen at my university with a petition against the government’s proposals to ask lecturers to spy on ‘Asian looking’ students.
“I found it fantastically easy to use a petition to lead on to talk about the election. I didn’t just get people to sign I also made an appointment to visit their department to get their colleagues to sign as well.
“It is vital to open a dialogue with people. Sally Hunt has already said that she is a “mainstream” candidate – we want a union that has the politics of the left. We can only win that if we start having the debates.
“I have been delegated to organise a hustings at the university. It is important to get as many members along as possible. It will address the sort of union we want.”
Before the merger there were fears that the union would split along the lines of the old unions – the AUT and Natfhe. But meetings such as last December’s higher education sector conference showed that the split is between left and right.
With the ballot fast approaching it is vital that lecturers campaign to get as many members as possible to vote.
The strength of branches varies from university to university and from college to college.
Where branches are less organised they should be working together to host hustings for the three general secretary candidates.
Branches should also be inviting the left candidates standing for president, vice-president (FE) and vice-president (HE) – Tom Hickey, Sasha Callaghan and Maeve Landman to address branch or regional meetings.
The first of a series of hustings was held at Soas university in central London on Monday. The debates were over the national pay bargaining, the cuts to Esol and the pay dispute.
Roger Kline’s London launch rally is on Thursday 18 January at Friends Meeting House Euston Road, at 7pm. Speakers include Paul Mackney, Gargi Bhattacharyya, Sean Vernell and Amanda Sackur.
Esol Alliance Campaign meeting, Monday 15 January, 4-6pm Britannia House, 27 Britannia Street, central London.