Support colleagues fighting back in FE!

Members in HE: last day to post your vote!

Dr Maria Chondrogianni (University of Westminster)

Post-92

Election address

Principal lecturer at University of Westminster, and NATFHE/UCU union activist since 1993.
Member of UCU Left.

Recent service

·       2013-present UCU Westminster Coordinating Committee Chair; and UCU Westminster Cavendish Branch Chair
·       2007-2010: UCU Westminster Negotiating Secretary (joint)
·       2003-2007: UCU Westminster Equalities representative and member of the negotiating team.

I have been a union activist throughout my university education and career because I believe strongly that by working together we can defend education and protect our rights. The magnificent industrial action by UCU members in defence of USS pensions shows how we can fight back effectively, transforming our union in the process.  As branch chair at a post-92 institution, I have championed the post-92 academic contract, for example defending and protecting it in a successful ACAS negotiation to stop a detrimental teaching-only contract being introduced. Moreover, I led the negotiations that successfully achieved fractionalisation for hourly paid staff as part of the framework agreement. Over the last ten years, I have been instrumental in ensuring that no compulsory redundancies have taken place under challenging circumstances.

UCU members face a critical time in protecting education, jobs, and our terms and conditions. While there is a lot of discussion about the student experience, we need to keep highlighting the obvious, that it goes hand-in-hand with the staff experience. As academic and academic related staff, we are currently facing punitive workloads, pay which has deteriorated year-on-year since 2008, pension uncertainties, while our contractual terms and conditions are constantly under threat Attempts to introduce or impose teaching-only contracts with the pretext of the new REF have also emerged. Moreover, the contractual right to ownership of intellectual property of any work produced during scholarly activity is also under attack, as well as the right of ownership of intellectual property and moral rights of any video recording.  We must challenge this in the context of our work to defend academic freedom.

Our response can only be through national campaigning so that local UCU activists and members feel that they are supported by each other's strength. I believe we need UK-wide campaigning to defend terms and conditions, in addition to the campaign to improve pay. We need to strengthen local branches to defend our members' contracts against employer attacks, by sharing experiences, strategies and tactics, particularly in opposing detrimental teaching-only contracts and punishing workloads. And we need to ensure that fair working conditions apply to all, first and foremost for casualised staff.

I am a hard-working branch chair and a defender of academic and academic-related staff. Vote for me for a union that campaigns for you and defends your employment conditions.  I will be honoured to get your vote.

Last updated: 1 February 2019