Voting has begun in the election of the UCU union’s next general secretary. Former general secretary Sally Hunt resigned in February citing health reasons.
Activists at universities and colleges across Britain have organised hustings to hear candidates debate the future of the union.
The UCU Left, which Socialist Worker supports, is backing Jo McNeill for general secretary. Jo won 41 percent of the vote when she stood against Hunt for the position in 2017.
She marked the start of the election by launching her higher education manifesto. It is based on the principle that “university education should be available to everyone who can benefit”.
“I want to be a general secretary for a democratic union that empowers everyone,” she said in the manifesto. “Higher education is being ruined by market values and cynical managers. We need to step up and take higher education back.”
Jo has put out an appeal to activists to help her in the campaign.
“Please allocate one person in your branch to contact all members and make sure they have received and posted off their ballot papers,” she said. “Increasing the turnout will result in much higher voting for left candidates.
“Make sure you put a Jo McNeill flyer in every member’s hand. Put a Vote Jo poster up in your staff room and everywhere you are able to.”
UCU union members at Winchester university are balloting for strikes to save jobs.
Bosses have threatened to scrap 55 posts—around 10 percent of the workforce.
They blame increased pension costs.
The union has demanded that bosses rule out compulsory job cuts.
Students have backed the fight to save jobs, and held a protest in March.
The ballot ends on Thursday of next week.