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Janice Aitken (University of Dundee)

Election address

I am a Reader in Art and Design at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design University of Dundee. 

I am an experienced and committed trade union representative. As a member of the Branch Committee in Dundee, I held several roles including Branch Equality Officer, Secretary and President. As a caseworker I have supported many members through cases involving everything from bullying and harassment to cases about equal pay and threatened redundancy and I continue to undertake this vital work. Casework is a very important element of UCU activity but I am committed to working collectively to achieve fair policies, pay, conditions and working practices to make casework less necessary.

Nationally, I have served as UCU Scotland Equality Officer and am currently UCU Scotland Honorary Secretary. In that capacity, as well as regularly representing Scottish members at HEC, NEC, Congress and STUC I have spoken at several anti austerity and anti racism rallies. I have represented members on the Scottish Government working group on Equally Safe in HE as well as in discussions with the Scottish Funding Council and other key bodies.

During the recent USS strikes, as well as consistently picketing my own institution in the most 'interesting' of winter conditions, I spoke at rallies, chaired meetings and visited other picket lines to support members.

I'm an experienced negotiator and have negotiated policies on avoidance of redundancy, grievance processes and bullying as well as being a key member of a branch team that successfully fought for the avoidance of job cuts on two different occasions. I have been very involved in anti racism and anti bullying campaigns and am particularly passionate about fighting for equal pay and against casualised contracts. In addition to my trade union work I am the Chair of Dundee Women's Aid Board.

I have a background in art and design as well as community learning and development. Prior to becoming an academic in an art school I was professionally involved in community engagement and all of my work is underpinned by the principles of collective action and community. I regularly use these skills in both documenting the activism of fellow trade union and equality activists as well as creating imaginative tools to protest against social injustice such as banners and giant puppets.

In terms of principles, I am absolutely committed to making sure that the voices of all members are heard and that UCU listens and responds to those voices using genuinely democratic processes. I am not a member of any political group within UCU. I ask you allow me to continue to serve and represent members in the position of UCU Scotland Honorary Secretary by voting for me.

Last updated: 1 February 2019