The University and College Union is currently holding elections for its National Executive Committee. Sam Morecroft, a union activist at University of Sheffield International College and a member of Socialist Alternative, is running for the NEC’s North East and UK seat.
I am a social science tutor working on a zero-hours contract at USIC, one of the few outsourced Higher Education providers where UCU has union recognition, where I serve as Branch President. I am also Chair of UCU Yorkshire and Humber, Vice President of Sheffield Trades Council and a member of UCU’s Anti-Casualisation Committee.
Organise the unorganised!
In the 22-23 academic year, I led my branch in the first ever industrial action at an outsourced private provider. Despite being excluded from national bargaining we won a 10% pay increase over 2 years following seven days of strike action – the best pay increase UCU has secured anywhere in HE. I have also led on extending our recognition agreement to include student support staff, preventing compulsory redundancies and securing improvements for casualised staff. At USIC we have proved that outsourcing cannot defeat the union.
I am currently working with several groups of UCU members to set up branches and win recognition agreements in other outsourced providers and supported the successful recognition campaign at Sussex ISC (Study Group) in 2021. I believe that outsourcing is an existential threat to Higher Education and that UCU must organise the thousands of staff working in these institutions. Unrecognised workplaces are where we see the very worst working conditions. Whether in the Oxbridge colleges or private providers such as Kaplan, INTO and On Campus, winning recognition is a key task for our union – we need to organise the unorganised to build our collective strength.
We need a democratic union
Higher Education is experiencing the most severe crisis in history, against a backdrop of biting recession and an unstable global order. If we are to win against aggressive and intransigent employers, we need to harness the strength of our rank-and-file members and lay democratic structures. We cannot win if members and branches feel dictated to by the national leadership.
If elected, I promise to defend and extend lay democracy, and fight for member control over our disputes and our union. We must also build solidarity and a political alternative across the trade union movement, as Starmer’s Labour offers no solutions.
An anti-war voice
I believe more than ever we need to be a proudly anti-war union. We are seeing horrific suffering in Ukraine and in Gaza, with potential for further conflicts around the world. We need an internationalist anti-war movement, based on solidarity, class politics and opposition to sectarianism, and our union must help build this.
I am not part of any electoral faction, but I am a member of Socialist Alternative, and I want to work with anyone willing to build strong, principled rank and file networks in our union and a culture of transparency and accountability. I will always be honest with the members I represent.
The Tories have declared war on trans people in education and wider society. Our unions have a responsibility to act. We need a mass, united struggle with the trade union movement in the lead, ready to defeat transphobic education guidance and win much more.
UCU has in recent years had a positive attitude to trans rights. Now we need to put that into action and join the struggle for full trans liberation.
Vote Sam Morecroft No 1 for North East + No 1 for UK in UCU!