UCU left candidate for general secretary Saira Weiner

The UCU union is electing a new general secretary and it needs a new kind of leadership. Saira Weiner, the candidate of the UCU Left is proudly pro-Palestinian and fights for workers to have democratic control of their union.

She argues for a break from a succession of UCU general secretaries who have ignored the members’ wishes and restricted strikes.

Saira says, “This last year has been transformative for UCU. Our members showed how powerful we can be. But this year also showed that our leadership has to change.

“We have to look at how we conducted our industrial disputes. We passed motions at Sector Conferences which were ignored. The Higher Education Committee and NEC passed motions. Many were also ignored.

“We need a union that is not afraid to stand in solidarity with the oppressed and to stand up for our members.

“We need a union that ensures that when members take industrial action, that they are in control of disputes. We need to make our democratic structures more open, inclusive and participatory.

“All elected officers should be accountable to members.”

Saira is standing against three other candidates —Vicky Blake from the University of Leeds, Ewan McGaughey from King’s College London and Jo Grady, the current general secretary. Her manifesto sets her apart from these candidates, not just in how she wants to extend union democracy but also because she has a principled stance over Palestine.

As general secretary she wants to ensure the union goes beyond offering warm words of solidarity or just passing motions in support of Palestine.

Saira has pledged to ensure the union supports hard-hitting protests in solidarity with Palestine. Saira’s unflinching support for Palestine sets her apart from the other candidates.

In her manifesto, Blake mentions that she wants to call for a ceasefire but doesn’t mention anything about ending the occupation. 

Grady has made speeches about Palestine, but her statement only nods at showing “support to our international friends”.

Saira’s stance is already winning her support from inside the union.

For example, on Twitter author and academic Guido Noto La Diega tweeted his support for Saira’s campaign, stating, “Coming out of Twitter hibernation to invite all Britain-based academics to read this manifesto and support Saira Weiner —a disabled, Jewish, anti-racist, socialist, pro-Palestine member.” 

Saira will be part of the general secretary hustings on Thu 1 Feb, 12.30pm-2pm. To register go to tinyurl.com/gensechustings
Read her manifesto at saira4GS.wordpress.com

Eight days of strikes at CCCG colleges in London

College workers in London struck over pay last week and this week. Members of the UCU union at colleges in the Capital City College Group (CCCG) struck for three days last week and returned to picket lines on Monday.

They were planning to strike until Friday. The CCCG colleges have campuses in Westminster, Camden and Enfield. On Wednesday of last week workers held a strike rally outside Westminster Kingsway college.

They held up placards that summed up how workers in Further Education (FE) are overworked, underpaid, and at breaking point.

One worker held a sign that read, “Why should I work for free?”

At the rally, Outcheuma Ezekelsuey, the UCU branch secretary at City and Islington College, said, “We are dedicated people, but it’s very stressful.”

On the first day of the strikes UCU members at Westminster Kingsway College said they had a “solid first day in our eight days of actions over pay, increase in the teaching year and over class sizes. CCCG UCU members are standing strong and united.”

Strong strikes like at the CCCG group are the way to win a better deal in FE. And the fight has to spread nationally.

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