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Election addresses for the role of Branch Reading UCU President 2020/21

Deepa Govindarajan Driver, Election address

As an experienced national pensions negotiator and as the RUCU Branch President for the past year, I would be grateful for your vote, so we can continue to build an accountable, credible and principled branch.

Our university has lost sight of its educational and charitable purpose. It has been sliding into ever-greater financial difficulties by deprioritising the interests of staff and students, rather than recognising that they are the beating heart of this university. As a result, despite being subject to a cull of valuable professional and administrative staff only a few years ago, and despite the hidden attrition from the non-renewal of our colleagues’ fixed term contracts, we now stand on the brink of another serious reduction in workforce, while our workloads continue to increase.

The current restructure, though superficially a response of Covid19, is really the result of historic mismanagement and ongoing efforts to sing to a marketised hymnsheet. Our branch must challenge the TINA (There Is No Alternative) logic. We can and must negotiate for management to cut back on the disproportionate amounts of money spent on privatised housing providers, poorly structured loans, white elephant overseas projects and big-name consultants. In this way, we can protect our livelihoods and redirect resources so we are paid and treated fairly.

With your vote, I hope to lead a union branch committee that is open and transparent with members, measured and fair in dealing with management, courageous in challenging bigger picture problems and strong on detail. As a black, disabled, woman activist and academic, I have personal experience of many of the challenges we face. Together, I believe we can energise a collective stance on key issues, effectively use fora where we have a place at the table (eg appeals panels) and represent members’ interests meaningfully.


Sally Pellow, Election address

We are about to embark on a challenging period, and I want to offer you my experience and knowledge to stand up for you in the months to come as we find our way through the changing world.

Since joining the Branch committee in 2015, I have successfully represented members in:
• Restructuring (at department or university wide levels)
• Redundancy, both compulsory and voluntary (at individual and group levels). I am very familiar with redundancy processes and employment law.
• Casework
• Individual representation, ensuring members are supported at meetings
• Negotiations with senior management, including as a member of the Joint Negotiation Committee and in the Branch joint claim
• National levels where the Branch voice needs to be heard.

I have had UCU training on union structure, committee structure and the law; on strike action and the law; and on negotiation strategies and techniques.

My approach is inclusive. I want to make sure each of you feels part of the union. I want to know what each of you thinks: every one of you is different and I acknowledge that it can be hard sometimes to gain a consensus, but I will make sure that all members’ voices are heard and that we build on our mechanisms to do that. I believe in every person’s right to be supported by a union. I want to build on what we currently do, making the very best use of the skills of the Committee, enhancing means of communication and finding new ways to support and welcome you.

I am a member of NEC, but my priority will always be to the Reading branch members. I will make sure we are there to support you when you need us. I am expecting this to be a demanding year and I want to offer you my service.