My name is Jo McNeill and I am standing against Sally Hunt as a candidate for General Secretary of UCU.

I am President of the University of Liverpool UCU branch and I’m in my fourth year as a member of the UCU NEC.  I’ve recently been elected as a National Negotiator for HE and I sit on the national Strategy and Finance Committee and Recruitment, Organising and Campaigns Committee. I’m an Academic Related member and I’m four years into a part-time PhD. I’m a member of the Labour Party and I’m standing as the UCU Left supported candidate.

I am a proud member of UCU and I am honoured to work alongside fellow members and activists.  I want to stand in this election to give members an opportunity to vote for real change. I will aim to provide a clear vision and effective strategies which can make our union stronger and more effective in what we all know are extremely difficult and uncertain times.

I want to lead a union which treats the sectors we represent equally. I understand that Further Education members, Prison and Adult Educators and members in our devolved nations need greater support and specific resource to stand up to the vicious attacks they face. I want all of our members to have confidence in a leadership which understands from the ground the issues they face in their sector every day.

I’m a member like you and I clearly see the mistakes of our past. I don’t want to lead our members into fights without very clear, transparent strategies to win!

We are facing an increasing number of cross sectoral problems, redundancies, de-professionalisation and equality discrimination. Pay is being cut, pensions are at risk and our workloads are escalating out of control. Casualisation is spreading and that gender pay gap is not closing. These problems are indeed large but they are not insurmountable. We need to protect our members from the worst effects of initiatives such as Local Area Reviews, the ongoing implementation of Prevent, the HE Bill and the unknown consequences of Brexit all within the context of the (anti) TU Bill. We have never needed to defend our education system more than we do now.

I will address all of these issues and more in a series of blog posts which I’ll circulate to members throughout the campaign period.

I want to bring a confidence back into UCU, I want members to reconnect with the leadership which so many feel disconnected from right now. I will address our union’s  current weaknesses while maintaining a level of consistency in our areas of strength.

This is an introduction to my campaign, all members will receive a copy of my full election address with your ballot paper on February 1st. Between now and then I will circulate a series of blog posts addressing issues our members are facing. These will be tweeted out, shared on my facebook page and emailed to branches. If you are interested in what I have to say, ask your branch officers to share my posts with you or contact me direct on: j.mcneill@liverpool.ac.uk

This is your opportunity to make a change. With turnout in the last General Secretary election in 2012 being just 12%, it’s vital that you let your voice be heard whichever way you decide to vote.

I fully support Carlo Morelli as Vice President for HE.

You can follow me on twitter: @jomcneillUCU

You can like my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/votejo4gensec/

You can keep up to date with my blog: jo4ucugensec.wordpress.com