Lucy Burke (Manchester Metropolitan University)

Election address

About Me

I am a Principal Lecturer in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at Manchester Metropolitan University and a lifelong socialist and trade unionist.

I am currently vice-chair of our branch and know what it takes to win for UCU members:
·       In 2017 MMU branch was the first branch in the UK to ballot for strike action under the new Trade Union Act.
·       We defied management expectations in our successful GTVO campaign and our strike action played a key role in fighting off compulsory redundancies following the closure of our campus at Crewe.

I am the elected co-chair of Learning Disability England and know what it means to lead the struggle for disability rights at a national level:
·       I am committed to ending the discrimination and inequalities experienced by disabled people in this country.
·       My academic research on the arts, disability, dementia and social justice is grounded in the principles of co-production and inclusivity

As the parent of a young person with a learning disability I have first-hand experience of the impact of prejudice, the brutality of our benefits system and the destructive effects of austerity on peoples' lives.

The challenges we face

Disabled people are always the first in line for cuts and the last in line for justice. Our employers often celebrate their 'Two Ticks' but fail to make reasonable adjustments, or to conduct meaningful and anticipatory equality impact assessments on new policies. Systemic ableism persists at every level from access to higher education itself, through to recruitment and promotion. 

The use of precarious hourly paid contracts embeds discrimination against anyone who requires additional support or reasonable adjustments.

An increasingly aggressive managerial culture that values metrics, outputs and productivity but not people is bad for everybody, but it is particularly damaging for disabled staff.

Our employers demand more and more from us at the expense of our health, wellbeing and personal lives. We face excessive workloads and intolerable, competing pressures to meet targets for research, teaching, grant capture, recruitment, retention.

And the reward for success? More work, more pressure, less time.

And resilience workshops.

But we don't need resilience, we need to fight for equality. This means much more than paying lip service to a set of principles, it means changing how we do things.

My priorities are to

·       fight for an inclusive and accessible union that is accountable to all its members, locally, regionally and nationally;
·       empower members to get the support they need by developing a database of potential reasonable adjustments for different impairment categories;
·       make mental health and the impact of work-related stress a priority in UCU campaigns;
·       address the impact of disability discrimination for casualised staff.

Last updated: 1 February 2019