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Mark Campbell: My vision for a fighting UCU union

This article is over 12 years, 5 months old
Mark Campbell is a lecturer at London Metropolitan University and a member of the UCU union’s national executive committee. He is also a member of the UCU Left and the Socialist Workers Party. Mark is standing for general secretary of the union.
Issue 2287
Mark on the picket line
Mark on the picket line

Why are you standing for the position of general secretary?

I want the union to mobilise its strength and influence to defend public post-school education.

That means using our industrial strength to resist privatisation and to defend pensions, pay and conditions.

We can do this most effectively when our resistance is underpinned by political campaigning with students and others who want to fight.

It’s wrong to imagine there’s a gulf between politics and trade unionism.

The government’s explicitly political agenda for post-16 education is politicising trade unionism.

This includes funding cuts, £9,000 fees, deregulation enabling private providers to profit from education, threats to the equality agenda, and attacks on pensions and pay.

Industrial and political resistance in defence of education must be our response.

What would your priorities be if elected?

There are five central issues. First is the Higher Education White Paper’s proposals to dismantle the university system, which is already leading to redundancies and cuts in course provision.

Second is the privatisation of post-16 education. Third is the serious erosion of pay in further and higher education.

Fourth are the hugely increased workloads accompanied by managerial bullying that stifles innovation in teaching and research, and undermines our profession.

Finally there is the determined assault on the USS and TPS pension schemes.

Our capacity to defend further, higher and adult education against all this will determine the shape of post-16 education for years to come.

What difference can left union leaders make?

Both general secretary candidates, and, I hope, all who are standing for election to the excutive, want to defend jobs, pensions, pay and conditions.

All want to resist government privatisation of education. The difference lies in how we do that. Do we simply voice our opposition and demonstrate our disapproval?

Or do we seek a strategy that can block the neoliberal project and its devastating longer-term effects?

Local and national battles over jobs or workloads will be more effectively fought with that political context in mind. I will promote strong, active branches and rank and file organisation.

We need to seek allies everywhere and see ourselves as part of a wider collective fight for justice and equality.

How important is it to you to build unity among left union leaders and among unions in general?

Unity is crucial in the face of attacks. But you can have passive unity or unity in action.

I stand for the greatest possible unity of trade unionists in resisting the onslaught that post-16 education and our public services face.

It is in our direct interests to seek unity with other trade unions and those struggling for justice.

We need a union that stands on its principles and is really willing to fight hard to defend its members.

30 November showed what is possible with unity. Hundreds of thousands struck for the first time, countless union branches are being regenerated, and we saw the biggest strike ever in Britain by women workers.

None of that could have been achieved without some unions, particularly the UCU but others as well, taking the risk of leading from the front.

Their capacity to see the government assault in wider terms made it possible for millions to express their opposition and disgust.

To get involved with Mark’s campaign go to

UCU Left is supporting several candidates for election to the union’s national executive. For details go to


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