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Members in HE: last day to post your vote!

John James (Coleg Gwent [Newport])

Election address

I've been a TUC lecturer for the last 18 years, delivering in a number of Colleges and WEA. I am currently the Branch Chair and the Chair of our Cross-Campus Negotiating Committee at Coleg Gwent. I've held a number of posts during this time, including H&S, Environment and Hourly-Paid Rep. Nationally, I also hold the post of Chair of UCU Cymru, representing both FE and HE for Wales. I have represented UCU and the TUC as a delegate on a number of European committees, especially on environmental issues including the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

As a member of UCU Left, I strongly believe in a member led fighting union that does not accept the status quo. For our members to prosper, so must our sector. For too long, austerity has been used as a tool to cut pay and terms & conditions while at the same time many of our respected members have left the sector either through voluntary or compulsory redundancy. Those that are left have faced increased workloads and effective pay cuts. It is time we turned this around and build a sector and a union for the future.

Working on a zero-hour contract for 14 years, where courses could be cancelled at any stage, has helped me to develop a deep understanding of the precarious nature that far too many of our members face. Through marketisation and casualisation, we have seen our sector starved of the necessary funds as they have been taken out in profits or exorbitant Principals' pay. Until we get more members on to stable contracts, this exploitation will endure.

As a TUC lecturer, I work closely with other unions and understand how they democratically organise. I will be able to use this experience and my subject area of Employment and Health & Safety law to enhance the work of the NEC.  Representing Wales on the Commission for Effective Industrial Action and the Democracy Commission, I will bring a different perspective and understanding in the challenging times ahead of us.

Working with the Wales TUC, I have assisted in producing a number of important toolkits on subjects such as: Menopause in the Workplace, Hidden Disabilities in Workplace, Autism in the Workplace. All of these have been allowed to be taboo subjects for workers for far too long. As a union, we should always hold equality at the heart of everything we do. I am currently researching Automation, New Technology and the Fourth Industrial Revolution; an area of increasing importance and influence in education that will not be held back but must be addressed via combined effort. Strength does not lie in the law, it is held in our hands through collective bargaining and action.

Last updated: 1 February 2019