New union leader urges rethink of strategy for better pay

16th March 2007 at 00:00

sally hunt, the new general secretary of the University and College Union, has called for a rethink of tactics after admitting that sporadic strikes had failed to win better pay and conditions.

The former general secretary of the Association of University Teachers, who jointly ran the new merged union with former Natfhe leader Paul Mackney, was elected on 52 per cent of the ballot last week. She shrugged off a low turnout of just 13.9 per cent, and set out her vision for the union's future in FE.

"A lot of people are fixated on the turnout but it's very much in the same ballpark as other general secretary elections," Ms Hunt said. "It's a democratic system and people have the right to vote - they either do or they don't."

She said the biggest challenge in FE was to secure good pay and conditions despite the lack of a binding national bargaining system. The tactics so far had not been a success.

"It seems there has been a reaction that we will get a pay offer, we won't like it and we will go for a one-day strike," she said. "Where was the analysis about the outcome from the previous dispute? A significant number of colleges still didn't have the pay agreement put in place, not just from last year, but from the year before."

The 42-year-old Arsenal fan and mother-of-one is the first woman to lead the former Natfhe membership. She said: "I don't go into work every day and say I'm female first and general secretary second. But I have experienced judgments based on what you are rather than what you do and that's something many women experience."

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