Philippa Browning (University of Manchester)

Election address

Professor of Astrophysics, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Manchester

What I would bring to the NEC:
·       Extensive hands-on experience of local negotiations, casework and leading industrial action.
·       Experience of, and commitment to, working with fellow trade unions, including students.
·       An independent perspective, not allied to any faction or sectional agenda
·       An understanding of the specific challenges facing HE, e.g. REF, TEF, workload, managerialism, casualisation, governance.
·       A commitment to listen to all members and work for their interests.

I joined AUT as a postdoc at St Andrews, and have been actively involved as a branch executive member and officer ever since. I was President of UMIST AUT (twice), University of Manchester AUT/UCU (twice), and am currently branch Vice-President.

I led extensive negotiations around the UMIST-Manchester merger, achieving retention of the "academic freedom" clause in Statute, giving academic-related staff the same protections as academics and establishing strong principles limiting use of fixed-term contracts. Subsequently, I was lead negotiator for a sector-leading agreement abolishing zero-hours contracts for Teaching Assistants.

I was actively involved in leading negotiations and campaigning during our recent local industrial action which overturned over 150 threatened compulsory redundancies, and the recent USS dispute.

I am proud of our members' achievements in establishing the JEP and saving Defined Benefit pensions. This demonstrates the power of sustained industrial action, paving the way for future disputes over pay - whilst recognising prolonged strikes are a weapon of last resort.

As a woman in a traditionally male discipline, I have a lifelong commitment to gender equality, and all aspects of equality. My union work is also motivated by belief in universities as communities  of scholars, founded on principles of collegiality and academic freedom, and, conversely, a commitment to opposing the  increasing managerialism and business ethos of university leadership.

I believe a unions's strength lies with branches and members, and a major role of the national union is to support and facilitate local activity. Supporting members through personal cases is one of the most important union roles, though necessarily often unsung - and I have substantial experience in this area.  Increasingly, we have to challenge bullying management cultures and associated issues of job insecurity, stress, excessive workload, performance management and lack of career progression. These issues must feed into national campaigning.

We face challenging times, especially the huge threat of Brexit (which I totally oppose), and UCU must  focus on core priorities, including:
·       Pay and pensions.
·       Gender and ethnicity pay gaps.
·       Casualisation.
·       Workload.
·       Job security.
·       Brexit.

The NEC must listen to the broad membership and build unity around these issues, creating a basis for robust campaigning and well-supported industrial action.

Please vote also for Adam Ozanne, Steve Sanguine and Michael McKrell.

Last updated: 1 February 2019