Warwick UCU Guidance for 2019/2020 National Elections

By now, you will have hopefully received your ballots for the Trustee, Officer and NEC electionsThese elections are hugely important, but because there are so many different positions we are being asked to vote on, they can also be confusing to members which often leads to low turnout. We’re hoping that by giving some guidance we can change that!

Key information:

  • Voting closes on 4 March but it’s a postal ballot, so make sure you get your ballots in by the 2nd of March. If  you haven’t yet received your ballot, order a replacement here.
  • Because all NEC, officer and trustee ballots are conducted by single transferable vote (STV), voters MUST rank candidates in order of preference (1, 2, 3 etc) until they can no longer express a preference for any candidate. If you just mark a candidates name, it will be considered a spoiled ballot
  • Warwick UCU members are eligible to vote in the following categories: Trustee, Vice-President (becoming president in 2022-23), UK-elected members HE (5 seats; to include at least one post-92, one academic related), and Representatives of women members (5 seats; three HE and two FE members to be elected).
  • Two groups have officially put out slates of candidates: UCU Left and Grady4GS (which represents the group who organised Jo Grady’s campaign; Jo herself as GS is not endorsing any candidates).

Whilst we do not have a branch position, certain members of our committee are offering recommendations of candidates to vote for. Below are their recommendations: 

UCU NEC recommendations from Myka Tucker-Abramson (Chair, Warwick UCU)

These recommendations are based on my experience as a UCU activist for the past five years as well as my experience as part of a grassroots, national anti-casualisation group (FACE) before that. I am recommending three candidates whom I have worked with and think would be excellent. I am also recommending four other members who I know less well, but think are hugely impressive. All of the candidates I am endorsing or trans-allies.

Mike Finn as UK Elected Member HE
Mike is hugely knowledgeable about the HE sector and trade unionism. He has a proven track record of fighting for UCU to be a truly democratic union. He is principled, fearless, truly independent and has mentored numerous trade union activists. Mike Finn was also a branch secretary at Warwick UCU whilst he worked here for a year.

Mark Pendleton as UK Elected Member HE
Mark has been a highly effective organiser for the rights of casualised, LGBTQ+, and migrant members. He co-founded the peer-network group International & Broke, which supports HE migrant staff and was crucial to getting migrant representation in the union. Mark is an experienced and committed grassroots activist and would be a real asset on the HEC.

Rhiannon Lockley for Women’s Officer
Rhiannon is a fierce and committed trade unionist, feminist, and anti-racist activist and organiser, and has been a particularly important presence in the West Midlands regional UCU.  Based in Birmingham, she would also bring more of our regional perspective to national. Finally, she is a trans-inclusive feminist which is very important in these elections.

I am also recommending the following members who I know less well, but who I think would be excellent:

Rhian Elinor Keyes for Women’s Officer

Leon Rocha for UK-elected members HE

David Harvie for Midlands HE

Margot Hill for Vice President

Finally, I highly rate both people running as representatives of migrant members, Robin Orfitelli and Dima Chami, but this is uncontested.


UCU NEC Recommendations Gavin Schwartz-Leeper (Assistant Secretary, Warwick UCU)

I’ll be supporting Mike Finn for NEC. Mike is our former branch secretary and has been an active branch leader at Liverpool Hope and Exeter (beyond Warwick). Mike’s expertise in higher education policy (and Brexit in particular) gives him a really useful perspective on national issues, as has his years working as a journalist and in Westminster as a policy expert. He co-authored a call for a new Condcordat for HE with Jo Grady and has worked on aspects of academic freedom relating to trade unionism. He’s a tireless activist for international, anti-racist, pro-trans (and wider LGBTQ+), and anti-casualisation issues. While he’s a committed left-wing activist, he supports a non-factional and member-led union. Mike’s always been an independent voice and I can’t think of anyone I’d trust more to represent rank and file UCU members.


UCU NEC Recommendations from Justine Mercer (elected UCU NEC rep for the East and West Midlands)

Having served on the NEC for three years, I am recommending three candidates I know well and rate very highly:

Theresa Forde (University of Derby) as # 1 for Midlands HE (East and West)

Michael Carley (University of Bath)andJamie Melrose (University of Bristol) as # 1 and 2 for UK HE

Theresa Forde (Derby)
Theresa has done great work on the East Midlands Regional Committee whose meetings I attend. She has been an activist for many years. Currently, our region does not have an elected HEC rep from a post-1992 university that takes part in national bargaining. We need a strong voice from this section of our union so that post-1992 institutions can benefit from the kind of transformation the pre-1992 sector enjoyed as a result of the 2018 USS strike.

Michael Carley (Bath)
Michael is a strong, independent candidate. His strategic thinking and timely contributions are invaluable in getting the various UCU committees (NEC, HEC and Education) to focus on our longer-term goals rather than technical minutiae. I have witnessed this at first-hand many times. He also writes a very informative, accurate and non-partisan blog.

Jamie Melrose (Bristol)
Jamie served on UCU’s Commission for Effective Industrial Action and is another strategic thinker. He has an impressive track record in his local branch (Anti-casualisation rep, Secretary and caseworker) and in the South West region (Regional Chair). I have seen him in action at many Congresses and HE Conferences.