Sally Hunt was re-elected general secretary of the UCU lecturers’ union last week by a comfortable margin.
Hunt took 73 percent of the vote while UCU Left candidate Mark Campbell won a respectable 27 percent.
UCU Left supporters won around a third of the national executive seats up for election—a considerable achievement.
Despite opposing several of the strikes over pensions previously, Hunt swung behind action for the duration of the election campaign.
But her campaign centred on “red baiting”, with talk of a “union within a union” and attacks on candidates’ political affiliations. Such tactics could open activists up to attacks from employers.
During the campaign Hunt posed as the champion of union democracy.
But she has moved immediately to slash the size of the union’s national executive without allowing any debate on the executive or the wider union.
Instead there will be a rushed consultation from 12 March.
There has been no further mention from Hunt of ensuring a big vote for action on 28 March over attacks on lecturers’ TPS pension scheme.
Hunt wants to move away from the present debate at branches, regions and congress towards rule by plebiscite—votes influenced by the media rather than by democratic discussion. Lecturers need a union, not a focus group.
Nearly 4,000 UCU members voted for Mark Campbell and thousands voted for left candidates for the executive.
They will be crucial in making sure UCU continues to fight government attacks. They will also be central to defending the union’s democratic structures.
The immediate task for UCU activists is to get a big yes vote from TPS members so they can strike alongside PCS, NUT and EIS on 28 March.
They must also build maximum support for the NUS student walkout on Wednesday of next week.