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Renewed enthusiasm

1 August 2019 | last updated: 5 March 2020

Dear colleague

Today, I officially start as General Secretary of our union. The record breaking increase in turn out in the GS election shows renewed enthusiasm in the union's activities. And from today, we must push on further. We have shown what we can do when we stand together. In May, staff at Lambeth College successfully organised to secure a 3% pay increase and other improvements in terms and conditions. Last year, we saw the power of members in higher education when they took concerted strike action against employers over the proposed changes to the USS pension scheme. And recently, at the University of Winchester, colleagues worked tirelessly to successfully pressure management to withdraw the threat of redundancies, which management claimed were necessary because of changes to the Teachers' Pension Scheme.

Since the election result was announced, I have been working two days a week with the union to prepare for taking up office. I'd like to thank our excellent staff, but also members for the support I've had so far in this transitional period. I look forward to continuing to work together and collaboratively during my term of office. As part of the campaign for the ballot in HE regarding the ongoing USS dispute and pay settlement, I will be visiting branches up and down the country, listening to your concerns, and making a clear case for voting yes to industrial action. We have achieved much, but we must keep pressing our employers to ensure that USS scheme members get justice, that our pay is protected, and that equality issues are addressed properly. As part of the tour I will also be visiting members in other sectors of post-16 education and want to draw your attention to the excellent and overwhelming ballot for strike action at Nottingham College where members are looking to avoid egregious changes to their pay, terms and conditions. All workers in education are facing diminishing pay, increasing precarity, and worsening conditions - as a union we stand behind colleagues at Nottingham College and at all our branches. Together we can defend the profession which we love so much.

In the news, you can read an interview with me published this week in the Guardian. A little more out of the public eye, I wanted to draw your attention to the recent 8th Annual Education International Conference held in Thailand. Along with our president and our staff member who leads on international affairs, I attended and spoke about the work of the union and its members, particularly in relation to organising and resisting the downgrading of our terms and conditions. Hearing the international perspectives on protecting our profession, and the links forged to help practically advance that cause, was fascinating and inspiring. Colleagues elsewhere in the world face many of the challenges we do, but some face considerable danger from persecution at the hands of authoritarian regimes. As general secretary, I will continue the work that has already been done to maintain excellent relations with our international sister unions, and extend solidarity and help from our members here to our comrades across the world.

That's it for now. The dates of the autumn pay and pensions tour will be published soon and I look forward to seeing you there.

Jo.

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