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Election addresses for the role of Reading UCU Branch President 2022

Deepa Govindarajan Driver, Election address

We are at a crucial point in Higher Education. The changes in student loan repayments, the cost-of-living crisis, recent announcements of restructuring at various universities and the after-effects of a global pandemic, suggest that the year ahead will bring challenges for staff at the University of Reading. We need a strong, resilient and united trade union branch at this time, so we can survive and thrive as a staff-student community. I would like to work with you to continue building a branch that is welcoming, effective and genuinely inclusive.

As an experienced trade unionist, I have a track record as a successful, accountable and skilled negotiator. Over the past decade I have served as branch president and pensions officer. During this time, I have been proud to serve on the local panel approving hardship funds and on the panel facilitating the movement of teaching staff from grade 6 to 7. More work needs to be done to ensure all our members receive fair pay and progression.

As one of the decision-makers on UCU’s national legal panel I have helped approve cases for legal support. I am therefore accustomed to reviewing cases where members are experiencing serious crises. I have been a national negotiator on the £90bn USS pension fund providing both industrial and technical expertise. I have also served on the Southern regional committee and on various sub-committees of the UCU’s governance bodies (HEC and NEC).

To do these roles well, I have always been rooted in work at branch level. Both members and non-members regularly contact me for support and advice. I have been invited to branches across the UK to help answer member queries and have chaired various public events of groups such as the UCU solidarity movement. It has been important to me that we work with, and support, local and national community groups, and build allies for our causes. I have taken a strong and visible stance against casualisation, unfair discrimination and incremental erosion of pay, terms and conditions

Fairness, inclusion, the public purpose of higher education and the interests of our members and our students are central to our work as a union. In building our branch, I believe it is vital that diverse voices and opinions are fully heard, and that our actions are supportive, honest and progressive. I hope you will allow me to use my skills to serve you as Branch President.


Sally Pellow, Election address

I’ve been Branch President since 2020, having previously been Branch Secretary.  I am also a member of the NEC and the HEC within UCU.

The last two years have been very odd, with little chance to meet you all in person, and I am very grateful for your engagement with surveys, online meetings, emails and the very occasional face to face opportunity.  I have been very glad of your feedback which has reassured me that I understand both the consensus and diversity of opinion here, and I have been able to translate that at NEC and HEC meetings.  I can see that there is concern and deep anger over the attacks on our pension in particular, and I also appreciate that many staff feel that the solution may not be industrial action – or at least, if taking action, that we need a clear strategy, which has not been as evident as hoped for.

I agree with Jo Grady’s recent proposed strategy for UCU as a whole union, which is to ensure that we have a very strong membership, all of whose views can be reflected in all discussions whilst we regroup and reflect, hear from everyone and build a strong industrial strategy for the future.  I want to build our membership here at Reading, so that the voice of the union is a strong reflection of all staff for our collective negotiations. I want to hear from you about which local issues you want us to focus on in the coming months to support members, and I will be putting mechanisms in place to do this. This is your branch, and I believe that the members should direct the branch in its decisions: it is not for me to dictate the direction.

Looking ahead, the next twelve months may well present challenges for us all, given the wider political and economic landscape.  It is possible that the branch may have to discuss a number of areas which are of concern to members.  If elected, my negotiating style is to find ways in which problems can be resolved, using additional options that have been overlooked or dismissed, and again looking for consensus.