Emma-Jane Phillips (Northumbria University)

Election address

I have been an accademic at Northumbria University at Newcastle for 17 years. I have been in a union since I started working at 16 in the local chippie and whilst many thought this pointless I was raised that there is power in the workforce and strength in the union, this is something I still believe and live by.

I became a rep at the branch a over 14 years ago, then a branch officer, regional officer and NEC member representing Disabled members.  I am the casework co-ordinator for the branch managing our team of caseworkers as well as being the branch and regional secretary.  I am passionate about my roles but it is becoming apparent that there are issues that are specific to the northern region. 

The decimation of industry in the North had a devastating impact on the FE/HE sectors, the challenges from TEF/REF and potential changes to funding are resulting in the employers being much more aggressive in their approach to staff, we see across the region continued moves towards teaching only contracts, performance management, use of capability and disciplinary procedures to manage staff out and there is the continued attack on the national framework with more universities taking a bespoke approach to the national contract.   We see from the attack on USS provision that employers do not care about our members, simply their own bottom line, they are declaring war on institutions and we will need to find innovative ways to fight, continually changing our methods to ensure that they are always caught off guard, in the way that the extensive action taken by pre92's did.

I believe that the representation on the NEC needs to be regionally active, there needs to be a deep understanding of the whole region not just one branch or location.  Working at the regional and national level I have an understanding of the issues across all our colleges and universities not just those in my workplace. Each region has its own challenges, our geographical representatives ensure that each region has a voice that is heard.

The situation with funding, privatisation and continued assault on conditions show no sign of abating, the importance of the union successfully navigating through the upheaval facing the sector cannot be understated, it is imperative that the views of the wider membership are acknowledged and considered in building a union that is effective for the future.

I believe there needs to be a level of transparency across the union. I always publish my voting record as part of any report. I am not a member of any of the union factions and vote in the interest of those I represent, to whom I ultimately answer.

Last updated: 1 February 2019