Members elect UCU department reps for our area of the university every two years (even years, starting in 2022), shortly after the Annual General Meeting. The committee will also arrange by-elections in the off-years where there are vacancies. Branch rules about the election of department reps
A network of department reps across the university is crucial for maintaining and increasing the strength of the union and ensuring the branch committee learns about problems in different areas.
The role of a UCU department rep
UCU department reps are a point of contact for union members in that school, department, service or area, and they alert the branch committee to issues concerning members in their area.
Department reps are not always caseworkers and are not expected to represent members in their area with individual problems (although many department reps are caseworkers, usually supporting members in other departments). Some department reps have informal discussions with local management but they are not involved in consultation or negotiation with local management – all consultation and negotiation with UCU is done centrally by the negotiating team.
Department reps will try to welcome new staff and make sure they know about the union.
Specialist department reps
As well as the department rep role, the committee often asks for nominations for specialist department rep roles, such as:
UCU department anti-casualisation rep
Focussing on issues affecting members who are casualised: members on fixed-term or fixed-funded contracts and members who are hourly paid.
UCU department postgraduate rep
Focussing on issues affecting postgraduate students who teach or do other paid academic or academic-related (professional and managerial) work for the university.
UCU department equality rep
Focussing on issues of inequality and discrimination affecting members in the department.
UCU department workloads rep
Focussing on the health, safety and wellbeing aspect workload issues in the department.
UCU department health and safety rep
Focussing on health, safety and wellbeing issues in the department
Who would be a good UCU department rep?
Try to think who would be the best person or people to be a UCU rep for your department. Challenge any stereotype you have of what union reps are like, be conscious that white and male union members are more likely to put themselves forward, and bear in mind that while someone who is more vocal at raising problems might be a good rep it might just be that they are already in a relatively more privileged situation so feel more able to complain. A good union rep will often be someone that colleagues have confidence in, whose judgement they trust, and who is a good listener.
You can find out more about the roles of UCU reps at ucu.org.uk/rep
Standing for election as UCU department rep
The deadline for nominations for department reps will be notified to members by email. The deadline will normally be between two and four weeks after the Annual General Meeting.
After the request for nominations has been sent out, to nominate someone, simply email email@example.com, ideally include the word “nomination” in the email subject, saying, for example:
Dear UCU branch honorary secretary
I wish to nominate Maria Garcia for UCU department workloads rep for the School of Design
Each candidate needs two nominations by the deadline and to have confirmed by the deadline that they are willing to stand to be eligible for election. Nominations normally have to be from UCU members in the same department, but exceptions can be made for very small departments.
If you have any questions about the department definitions or exceptions for nominations for small departments, contact the branch honorary secretary.
Workload and training
University of Leeds has a historically not-great record in ensuring staff have sufficient time off for trade union work, insisting it is part of ‘citizenship’ for most union reps whose workloads are calculated that way. Discussions are ongoing to try to improve the situation so that more reps have workloaded time off (or equivalent) in addition to citizenship. If you have any questions about this please contact the branch honorary secretary or branch president.
UCU provides training for UCU reps ucu.org.uk/training, and support and mentoring from more experienced union reps.
This page was last updated on 28 April 2022