UCU members who work for the University of Leeds elect a branch committee every year at the Annual General Meeting in May, to conduct the day-to-day business of the branch in-between the general meetings of all members. (General meetings of all members are the primary decision making mechanism locally, committee meetings are the secondary one.) The term of office is for one year from 1 August.

It really matters that the committee is broadly representative of all of us at the university, both in who we are and our job roles at the university.

If you’re interested in and would like to know more, please get in touch with the branch president or any of the current committee members. You don’t need any particular skills or experience to be on the committee – the important thing is that the committee is a good representation of the whole membership.

Nominations open in early April for all the elected committee roles for the following academic year

Roles on the committee

The tabs below tell you a bit more about the different roles on the branch committee.

Members can elect up to 14 ‘ordinary’ committee members (which just means not branch officers) at the Annual General Meeting.

When making a nomination, or thinking of standing, it’s useful to consider the importance that the committee represents the whole membership and no one group is over-represented to the accidental exclusion of others, as happens some years (but not every year) with the over-representation of male and/or white members.

It can be good for committee members to have knowledge or lived experience that would help them to take a lead role for the committee on aspects of our collective work as a union. This would be with the support of the rest of the committee and the branch officers – it doesn’t mean you’re expected to be represent that whole group of members or know everything about that subject. These lead roles will be decided by the incoming committee but it could be useful to add when you accept the nomination if you are interested in leading the committee’s work in one of these areas.

  • Black members equality (UCU uses the term ‘black’ in a political sense to refer to people who are descended, through one or both parents, from Africa, the Caribbean, Asia (the middle-East to China) and Latin America. It refers to those from a visible minority who have a shared experience of oppression. The word is used to foster a sense of solidarity and empowerment.)
  • Migrant members equality
  • LGBT+ members equality
  • Disabled members equality
  • Women members equality
  • Issues affecting members who are postgraduate students (in particular for postgraduate students who teach or are employed to do other paid academic or academic-related work for the university)
  • Climate change and the ecological emergency
  • Pensions

Up to four additional committee members can be appointed at any point during the year by a general meeting or the committee.

The President chairs branch meetings and committee meetings, aiming to ensure that important issues are discussed, that debate is fair, and that decisions are made and acted on. Working with other officers, they represent staff in negotiations and consultations with management, campaign, keep members informed, ensure that the branch participates fully in UCU activity at regional and UK-wide levels, and liaise with the other campus trade unions. They also supervise the work of the branch administrator.

Ben Plumpton, branch president in the 2020-2021 academic year

From the branch rules:

The president will chair all general meetings and all committee meetings of the Branch and perform such other duties as are laid upon the president by any rule or are decided by the committee.  In the absence of the president these duties will be performed by the vice-president, failing which another officer as the committee decides. In accordance with normal practice, the president may, between meetings of the committee, take any action on behalf of the committee which is both urgent and necessary. Such Chair’s Action must be reported for approval to the next committee meeting. The President will ensure that a local paid administrator/organiser is appointed (where funds allow).

The President shall be responsible for the dispersal of funds provided by the university to facilitate time off for trade union duties. The President shall, in consultation with the Officers, and in accordance with financial regulations, arrange for the timely disbursement of these funds and such dispersals shall be reported to committee at the first opportunity.

Vice-President is a really broad role, which allows you to learn a lot about how to be an officer and how things work. It involves participating in negotiations and consultations, chairing meetings when the President can’t, and generally getting involved in everything the branch does. It’s a great first officer role if you want to get more involved.

Chloe Wallace, vice-president in the academic year 2020-2021

From the branch rules:

The Vice-President will assist the President in the day to day running of the branch and perform such other duties as are laid upon the Vice-President by any rule or are decided by the Committee.

From the branch rules:

The treasurer will have custody of the funds of the Branch and authority to make payments from them in accordance with the rules as the need arises.  The treasurer’s duties will be to keep the books of the Branch; to present the accounts of the Branch for auditing as necessary; to present these audited accounts to a general meeting of the Branch, to publish them to all members of the Branch, and to submit a copy forthwith to the honorary treasurer of UCU. In the absence of the treasurer, the treasurer’s duties will be performed by another officer as the committee decides.

From the branch rules:

The duties of the honorary secretary are to call general and committee meetings of the Branch; to ensure that minutes of those meetings are kept; to organise membership circulations as the committee deems necessary; to arrange notification of local election and ballot results to all members; to liaise with regional and national officers and to perform such other duties as are laid on the honorary secretary by any rule or are decided by the committee. The honorary secretary will provide liaison with the University on behalf of the negotiating committee.  In the absence of the honorary secretary, the honorary secretary’s duties will be performed by another officer as the committee decides.

A union is its members, and the more we have, the more effectively we can negotiate with the University. The membership secretary does the crucial work of inviting new employees to UCU, and building up our membership in under-represented areas.

Alaric Hall, membership officer in the 2020-2021 academic year

From the branch rules:

The membership/recruitment officer will be responsible for recruitment and for keeping any membership records that are necessary at local level. The membership/recruitment officer will provide membership information promptly to UCU in accordance with instructions from UCU Head Office or Regional Office to enable statutory and rule requirements of membership records to be met.  In the absence of the membership officer, these duties will be performed by another officer as the committee decides.  The membership/recruitment officer will be assisted by the local administrator in the record keeping.

The Equality Officer role covers many important areas of policy and practice that the university undertakes, because our systems and historical practices often have a detrimental effect on marginalised people and minority groups. Ensuring that new, and old ways of doing things are properly considered with regards to different needs is paramount to building an inclusive and welcoming work and study place.

Lorraine Youds, equality officer in the 2020-2021 academic year

From the branch rules:

The equality officer will:

  • Have knowledge of and commitment to relevant issues, and be willing to undertake training according to the needs of UCU, monitor the implementation of equality policies within the institution, and, where appropriate, encourage and support local negotiations on equality matters
  • Monitor the volume and nature of personal casework which involves equality issues to ensure that the Branch has appropriate mechanisms in place for handling such cases
  • Where appropriate, provide information, encouragement and support to members about equality issues
  • Ensure that UCU’s national annual meetings, and any other relevant events and opportunities for women, black members, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members and disabled members are publicised locally, that members from all groups are encouraged to participate, and that the Branch maximises the opportunities for recruitment and organisation amongst all groups
  • Where appropriate, provide liaison between the Branch and UCU’s equality structures

In the absence of the equality officer, these duties will be performed by another officer or officers as the committee decides.

I see my role as minimising insecure employment at every stage of the employment lifecycle through campaigning, consultation and formal negotiation. This includes making sure the university offers permanent over fixed-term posts, advocating for hourly-paid positions to be made fractional and fixed-term jobs to be made permanent, and ensuring that casualised workers are offered opportunities to enhance their careers equal to their securely-employed peers. I am also responsible for communicating the branch’s anti-casualisation work to members and beyond, developing networks of anti-casualisation reps and involving casually-employed members in decisions about how we campaign and address casualisation at the university. 

Xanthe Whittaker, anti-casualisation officer (job share) in the 2020-2021 academic year

From the branch rules:

The role of anti-casualisation officer will be filled by a member whose main employment is casualised, or who has, in the two years prior to their nomination, been in casualised employment as their main employment.

From the branch rules:

The Health & Safety Officer will:

  1. Act as a recognised Safety Representative of the branch and will attend the formal University Health and Safety Committee.
  2. Appoint, from membership of the branch, a number of University level safety reps as may be agreed from time to time with the University.
  3. Where appropriate, provide liaison between the branch and UCU’s health & safety structures and to foster fraternal links with the other campus unions on health & safety matters.

In the absence of the Health and Safety Officer, these and other duties will be performed by another officer or officers as the committee decides.

The Campaigns Officer works with committee and all other members who want to help organise a fight-back against the many attacks facing members in our marketised neoliberal environment. This role needs an awareness that we have enormous collective strength and, when we use it, we can win our campaigns. The University is nothing without its staff and students; neither government nor local management can change this fact. The campaigns officer makes links with other UCU branches and campaign groups to build and share solidarity.

Lesley McGorrigan, campaigns officer in the 2020-2021 academic year

From the branch rules:

The Campaigns Officer will assist the President and Branch in the day to day running of campaigns.

Nominations

Nominations for all committee positions must be sent to the branch administrator by the end of the day before the AGM. The deadline for nominations for the 2021-2022 academic year is the end of Wednesday 19 May 2021.

The UCU office is closed because of the covid-19 lockdown so we are not requesting or accepting nominations on paper this year. Please email your nomination to a.j.u.smith@leeds.ac.uk. You don’t need to give reasons for your nomination, just please make clear what role you are nominating someone for.

To be eligible for election two members must nominate you.

Our branch rules go into more detail about the roles of different officers, election processes etc. If you have any question about the nomination or election process email the branch administrator or the honorary secretary at ucu@org.uk

Time commitment

Committee meetings are fortnightly on a Tuesday, 1pm – 2pm. There are additional optional working groups – committee members are encouraged to be involved in at least one working group to get stuck into the detail of an aspect of the committee’s work. The branch officers will have additional meetings – contact the branch president, one of the officers or the branch administrator for details.

We elect a large committee which means that committee members are able to dedicate time when they can and step back when work is particularly busy. Senior management won’t currently give a workload allocation for most committee members, treating union work typically as either part of citizenship or something you will be allowed time to do (depending on the type of job). A small amount of ‘buyout’ time is allocated, which the committee typically allocates to the branch officers ranging from 50 percent for the branch president to 10 percent for most officers.