Lesley Kane (Open University)


Election address

Lesley Kane - Open University Associate Lecturer

As president of the Open University UCU branch in 2018 I led the fight against an extreme neo-liberal agenda which included "many, many hundreds of redundancies", and proposals for radical changes to OU Charter and Statutes, including removal of protection for academic freedom to make it easier to dismiss academics.

As often happens, faced with the prospect of resolute industrial action supported by the overwhelming majority, management began to back down. Our actions also contributed significantly to the broader staff revolt which led to the resignation of our former VC.

We also succeeded in concluding negotiations (in which I was a lead negotiator) for making 4000+ casually employed Associate Lecturers permanent employees on fractional contracts, and initiated a serious campaign to bring excessive workloads under control.

I am a lifelong trade unionist who has worked for the Open University for over 20 years because I believe in its original ethos of opening higher education to those who would not otherwise have access to it. As an OU Associate Lecturer I have witnessed first-hand the transformative power of higher education, and well as the destructive impact of marketisation and high fees in England.

Other past service to the union


·       Anti-Casualisation Committee, 2015-present
·       NEC member, 2009-15, 2017-present

I have contributed to negotiating guidance currently in use at branch level, and served on the following NEC sub-committees:

·       Recruitment and Organisation Committee,
·       Education Committee,
·       Stress and Bullying working group,
·       Strategy and Finance Committee


·       Branch secretary (2008-2017)
·       10 years' experience on the OU Joint Negotiating Committee
·       Health and Safety representative
·       Caseworker

In 2017 I also served on the Congress elected Commission for Effective Industrial Action whose recommendations shaped our strategy in the USS dispute.

The USS dispute showed that UCU could win industrial action ballots, even under the Tory anti-union laws.  We mobilised new layers of members and recruited new members to the union.  We had effective strike action.  We won the argument that there was no good case for detriment to the USS pension scheme.  On the picket lines and at the teachouts we linked the industrial dispute with all the other issues about escalating workloads, casualisation and the marketisation of education.  We are most effective when we link the educational and the industrial issues.  This dispute has transformed our union, encouraging members in other sectors to fight back on pay and employment conditions.

I am a Labour Party member and UCU left supporter. If re-elected will work for:-

·       Equality and ending all forms of harassment in the workplace
·       Defence of TU rights
·       Defending colleagues impacted by Brexit
·       Defending and improving pay and terms and conditions

Last updated: 1 February 2019