Sitting in a windowless hall during a debate on the amendment of a motion, I wondered this.
And realised – it’s democracy in action, which isn’t always as exciting as it sounds!
UEA UCU President Amanda Williams speaking to a motion
Like everything, there are good and bad bits.
Procedure, policy, rule changes.
But also networking, inspirational stories, different experiences.
I’ve come back fortified by solidarity, and reminded of everything a union achieves, not just pay, but much, much more: improved, fairer working conditions and rights, highlighting the issues faced by those on casual contracts, or because of colour, gender, sexuality, or disability.
The incoming Trade Union Act means all members need to engage, not just the activists.
It’s our union, our voice, our vote.
Had an excellent day at this conference. Jotting down some notes:
in opening speech “…skewered perceptions of reality become received wisdom” – in a Trade Union context makes me think of the so-called union barons.
talked about the importance of journalism starting at the local level. Importance of local journalism is crucial in holding those in power to account.
Diversity of ownership for healthy press & society – uncovering corruption
Levison – NUJ had to appeal to take part. They were the only means for anonymised, confidential voices from journalists to be heard
Drastic cuts in newspaper industry – union opposition not about wanting to preserve old ways of doing things, it’s about the value of good journalism – providing the analysis on stories, not just pumping out press releases. Media owners used austerity as excuse to cut jobs.
Women in media
Bit depressing in the lack of progress, but the vibrant voices of the panel bear testament to the value women’s contributions can make in all areas. Reflecting on trade unions, there are a lot of female voices. Politics more widely – interesting point from Young green activist that men will often offer to do the outside facing roles such as being a candidate. And observation that politics requires a lot of confidence – private schools instil that in their pupils. Greens actively approach women to encourage them to stand – also aware of middle class domination & lack of BME women in the party.
Also noted the lack of working class women’s voices in media.
There were other sessions, it was a very rich day, in ideas and inspiration, thanks
Being in a trade union is about coming together collectively to fight for workers’ rights. Those who have followed the election campaign will know that it’s likely that unions are going to lose some of the hard-won rights and it’s going to be a lot harder to campaign and support our members.
Please think about what you can do to help UCU@UEA.
Strength in numbers – recruit a friend
Be public about your membership – mugs etc available from the office
Let the committee know what’s going on
Write something for the newsletter
Interested in negotiating, supporting colleagues in cases, admin? Get in touch!
Many of us are feeling angry, depressed, useless after the election result. A brilliant call to action comes from Laurie Penny: http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2015/05/dont-give-angry-population-hard-govern-depressed-population-easy
This blog post is inspiring:
This group was set up after tuition fees were hiked up in the last government. Many of you talented people could help out: http://www.arts-emergency.org/
And please, look after yourselves. Academics have one of the highest workloads of any job & it’s exhausting. Make time for you, whether you are academic or otherwise (written by ALC member at the weekend!). http://blobolobolob.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/looking-after-yourself-as-radical.html
Outside work there are campaign organisations that the trade unions support which you can get involved in: