UCU elections
Taking action in higher education

Dr Stan Papoulias (King's College London)

Election address

Dr Stan Papoulias, Research Associate, Health Service & Population Research, King's College London

I am standing for the NEC as a non-aligned candidate because I believe that the strikes of 2018 opened a unique opportunity for us to refuse the violence of marketisation in HE and build a different future through a living, member-led union - a body of collective, open and democratic practice.

I have worked across disciplines in post and pre 92 universities since 1994: 10 years hourly paid, 7 in a permanent post and another 7 in fixed term contracts. I have seen hourly paid work deteriorate from a stepping stone to a millstone.  In October 2011 I was senior lecturer at Middlesex University; in October 2012, a research assistant at KCL on a one year contract. My story is the story of UK higher education in the last 25 years

At Middlesex I was centrally involved in campaigns in 2010-11: against the closure of Philosophy, massive redundancies and further undermining of our nationally contracted workloads. These campaigns taught me 3 things: post-92s were the test bed for broader HE 'innovations' in efficiency savings, developing overseas infrastructure and outsourcing; collective mobilising against the violence of marketisation is hard when our workplaces train us to manage our exploitation rather than refuse it; finally, our union could learn a lot from the courage and inventiveness of student activism.

For most of us things got worse since 2011. But in the 2018 strike I saw that courage and inventiveness bubbling up again across new spaces and co-organised pickets and recruitment drives at our KCL site, including the first local rally for many years. I became site rep and now acting Vice President of our branch, working to mobilise a highly transient workforce in grant-dependent departments. In the 2019 ballot our turnout was our highest for a pay dispute. I was a KCL delegate at Congress 2018 and refused to withdraw a motion of censure of our General Secretary for her conduct during the strike. The eventual passing of this motion testified to the new vibrancy in our union: a real hunger for democracy, transparency, a demand that members on the ground participate in and scrutinise leadership.   

In standing for the NEC I want to work towards a living union which centers the voices of precarious workers and nurtures an ongoing sense of membership rather than one only emerging during disputes or casework.

As a non-binary trans person and someone who lives with enduring mental distress, I believe that the union, by linking us all as workers can enable us to denounce the virulent politics of exclusion and develop new spaces of comradeship and care.

Last updated: 30 January 2020