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Union swings to the centre as election returns Grady loyalists

Image: FREEPIK2, via Shutterstock

UCU Left wins only 4 of 25 higher education places available on national executive committee

The balance of opinion on the University and College Union’s leading committee has tilted to the centre ground following its latest elections, which could create an easier path for any agreements to end strike action.

Election results published on 10 March for the union’s national executive committee, which is the ultimate decision-making body of the union, show that just four higher education candidates endorsed by the UCU Left slate won places. Not all NEC seats were available for election but a total of 23 contested and two uncontested seats for higher education were up for grabs in this round.

The UCU Left group—which last week publicly rejected Grady’s claim that an end to strike action could be “within reach”—endorsed Pura Ariza, who won one of three seats representing women in higher education; Bruce Baker, who won one of three north-east seats; Jo McNeill, who won one of five seats for UK higher education; and Martin Ralph, who won one of three trustee seats.

Meanwhile, the slate that supported general secretary Jo Grady in her leadership campaign last year picked up nine seats. It means that Grady’s influence over the NEC has been strengthened and there could be less resistance to any compromise solutions put to the union’s higher education committee to end the national strikes over pensions and pay. Any university delegate on the NEC is automatically a member of the higher education committee, which has the power to recommend that an offer from employers be put to a ballot of the full membership.

Strikes are taking place at 74 UK universities until Friday. Members are on strike over contribution levels to the Universities Superannuation Scheme and over the “four fights”: pay levels, casualisation, workload, and gender and ethnicity pay gaps.