UCL-UCU: Annual General Meeting

15 June 2022

Agenda and candidate statements for uncontested posts

This is a reminder notice and agenda (see Appendix 1) for the Annual General Meeting of UCL UCU which will be held on Wednesday 29 June from 13:00-14:00 (facilitated using Zoom).

Our AGM will receive the result of the election for the contested officer post of Secretary and confirm the uncontested election of UCL UCU officers and ordinary Committee members for the year ahead.

We are also circulating the candidate statements for uncontested officer posts and ordinary committee members (see Appendix 2). Note that the Postgraduate Officer post is vacant as no nomination was received.

Any motions for debate should be submitted to ucu@ucl.ac.uk

UCL UCU Executive Committee



UCL UCU facebook


Appendix 1 - 2022 Annual General Meeting Agenda

  1. Chair's Business.
  2. Draft minutes of previous AGM on 20 July 2021.
  3. Matters Arising.
  4. To receive the President's Annual Report.
  5. Accounts for the year ending 31 August 2021.
  6. Subscriptions for 2022-2023.
  7. Elections:
    1. To receive a report from the Returning Officer
    2. To confirm the election of uncontested officer and ordinary committee posts
  8. Motions for debate: TBC


Appendix 2 - Candidate statements for uncontested officer posts and ordinary committee members

Officer Posts:

President - Sean Wallis

I'm standing again for branch president. I'm keen to encourage more members to come forward to be active in the union, whether it is to stand for the committee or become union reps.

We need a strong union. UCL is not immune to the boom-bust of the HE market system. What happens to other universities – major job losses at Goldsmiths and Roehampton, for example – are symptoms of a crisis that will come to our door. UCL management are no different to others in our sector, talking up inflation costs while holding down pay. So we should actively express solidarity towards colleagues at universities fighting back, whether it be over pay and jobs, because we may need to take action for ourselves before too long.

We must stand up for colleagues on insecure contracts. The biggest division among our ranks is by contract type – although many of us have job security, some do not know whether they will have a job next year, or even be paid correctly each month! We have managed to negotiate improvements for PGTAs and Lecturer (Teaching) staff, but we also need to organise research staff. We negotiated extended financial support for research staff during the first 2020 Covid lockdown, but we need to do a lot more. And while starting salaries might be raised for teaching staff, academic related and professional staff are stuck at top of grades.

UCU is your union. Vote for me and let’s work together to improve pay and conditions for all.


Vice President - Holly Smith and Ilektra Christidi [job-share]

Holly Smith

I'm standing for Joint Vice President with Ilektra Christidi, we can work productively by sharing responsibilities between us and support these aims for increasing participation in our branch.

UCL is the largest branch in the UCU, and it’s a challenge to enable democratic debate and engagement with our large membership. We are all frustrated by the lack of progress in our national disputes over #FourFights and #USS, but we can make progress on local issues like the Teaching Concordat or London Weighting.  

I believe that a network of Departmental Reps is key to an effective branch. I wrote a Departmental Reps Development plan in 2021, and this year I’ve worked with Executive Committee colleagues to recruit and support new Dept Reps, and reactivate the peer-to-peer support of the Dept Reps Network.

At UCL we don’t have a Personal Casework Officer, and if elected I will work to create this role. Members join UCU knowing that if the worst happens, they will get advice and support. We have an excellent network of Personal Case Workers and Dept Reps who are often the first port of call for members, but no transparent policies on how we deal with case work, monitor for equalities issues or escalate to the branch/region.

I'm at IOE and I've served on the Executive Committee of IOE and UCL branches, and as Joint Vice President and as Equality Officer previously. In UCU nationally I've just completed a two-year term on the NEC representing London & East.


Ilektra Christidi

I’m standing for joint Vice President with Holly Smith, with a focus on membership/recruitment. 

I’ve been a department rep in ISD/ARC since 2017 and a member of the exec since 2020. If elected, I’ll work towards building our branch, both in numbers and qualitatively, by supporting local initiatives at the department or job category level. As part of this, I’ll establish the Professional Services Staff forum, an initiative I started during the last strikes.

I stand for a militant, member-led branch, and I support the statement for Strengthening participation & effective support of our branch members. I believe that a Trade Union can be successful only if it involves all its membership in the decision and policy making, and in formulating demands that are clear and in sync with our contemporary needs, not the limitations that the employers want us to conform to. Pay in sync with the cost of living, real solutions to casualisation, and a pension that is not worse than the pre-2018 disputes Defined Benefit, are all reasonable demands that we should strive for.

We need a Union willing and ready to fight to defend our rights and make gains in an increasingly marketised education sector, against the upcoming onslaught of redundancies, deteriorating pay and working conditions, and pension theft. We need a branch that can mobilise its members for local and national disputes, in close coordination with the other campus unions and the student union/organisations.


Communications Officer - Sonja Curtis

I am running for the role of UCL UCU’s Communications Officer. If elected I will aim to raise the profile of the branch, attracting new members and keeping existing members informed.  I believe in two-way communication, so would use my position to support the creation of new and innovative mechanisms for soliciting feedback and views from our members and to increase participation from the wider membership that does not always attend meetings, so that our branch discussions can be truly representative. I support the measures listed here to improve member participation and input into key decisions.

I have important requisite skills for this role. As a former Executive Committee member, I was responsible for migrating the very old UCL UCU website from Dreamweaver into Silva, and from there migrating it again from Silva to Drupal.  I created the popular UCU stickers seen on picket lines the past couple of years and have also designed numerous posters and leaflets for the branch.


Treasurer - Seán Doyle

I have been Treasurer for one year and a case worker and Environment Officer for two years. Over this time, I have overseen the running of all financial matters and accounts for our branch and am happy to continue this work. I have liaised with central UCU with regards to the fighting fund, attended London Region meetings and HESC. I have also represented our members by moving for local hardship support which was unanimously carried and would like to continue supporting our most vulnerable members in this manner.


Environment Officer - Anca Tacu

Reaching net zero requires universities to contribute to solutions through their research and by reducing their own carbon footprint. UCL is a leader in relevant research and UCU should be integral to ensuring UCL does all it can to meet the challenges climate change poses.

I am a Project Manager at the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP) in The Bartlett. One of the projects I have been working on is building a network of UK universities mobilised around solutions for achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). I am passionate about finding workable solutions to the climate crisis. I have an Msc in Management with Business Strategy and the Environment, which has equipped me with a comprehensive understanding of climate change science and environmental issues and I was previously a UCL Sustainability Champion and led the Green Impact departmental team in the School of Pharmacy. I am a committed trade unionist and would be honoured to represent members as Environment Officer.

As Environment Officer I would particularly concentrate on:

  • Ensuring UCU is represented in UCL’s structures, to ensure our members’ views and demands in relation to climate change are heard.
  • Actively campaign for action by members and the institution to achieve a net-zero status for UCL at the earliest possible opportunity.
  • Producing information for members that is accessible and that enables members to make informed choices as they face the challenges of addressing climate change.
  • Ensuring our branch’s activities offer a model of good practice in reaching net zero.


Committee members:

Saladin Meckled-Garcia

I am standing for Executive Committee member because I believe we need urgently to improve support for members and engagement with our branch membership. As Branch Secretary I will work towards:

  • dedicated meetings to fully discuss significant issues affecting the branch, rather than rushing to a vote on several motions after a very brief debate.
  • innovative ways to get feedback from and engage the wider membership directly, such as polls and surveys on the action we should take
  • more focus and resources for building member networks (such as the growing Departmental Reps. Network, the Teaching staff Network, Researchers Network, and Academic Related staff forum)
  • an end to the practice of circulating Branch Meeting Agendas and motions at the last minute (sometimes less than 24 hours in advance), which excludes so many from participating.
  • having a full-time, full-contract, branch administrator with trade union rights (rather than someone on a Temp contract and no TU rights as we presently have), as essential for fully and quickly supporting members.
  • improving case-work management in supporting members and proposing a dedicated case-work officer that regularly reports back on progress and needs.

I also support these common aims for making our branch more effective.

I have previously been Branch President, Vice President, and Communications Officer, and an active voice for staff on UCL governance bodies.

To respond to the current hostile HE environment, we need a step change in how we engage members, listen to them, act on their views, and support them.


Lily Kahn

I have been at UCL since 2000 (first as a student, then as a staff member since 2008) and am based in the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies. I would like to continue working on the UCL UCU Executive Committee as a way of supporting our union, which plays such a central role in looking after us as higher education staff. At the local UCL level, I have a particular interest in campaigning for fair and stable contracts for colleagues in precarious teaching and research roles, as well as championing smaller humanities subject specialisms such as minority languages, and ways of making sure that union activities are inclusive of neurodivergent and disabled staff. At the national level, I am deeply invested in the fight to retain our pensions and to protect colleagues from the continual erosion of working conditions. If elected to the Executive Committee, I hope to be able to help shape the UCL strategy for industrial action, ASOS, and other methods of holding management accountable.


Bettina Friedrich

My name is Bettina Friedrich and I have been at UCL since 2016. I am a research psychologist and working as Research Associate at the UCL Institute of Child Health where I am also departmental union rep. I was a member of our branch Executive Committee in 2021-22, and was Health & Safety rep for our branch in 2020-2021. Also, I am an elected non-professorial member of the UCL Academic Board.

I would like to continue contributing to our branch as a member of the Executive Committee in the coming year.


Mark Newman

I have worked at UCL IOE since 2003 where I started on a fixed term research contract, eventually managing to get onto an academic contract. I have experienced working life of all kinds at UCL having been a Programme Leader, Funded P.I on research projects, Manager , Doctoral Supervisor, research team member. I have am involved in UCL Governance as an elected member of Academic Board and as an elected Rep on Research Degrees Committee.

I have been a UCU Rep since 2003 and a member of IOE UCU Exec and then UCL Exec when IOE branch merged with UCL Branch. I help coordinate the IOE UCU section reps and members and sit on negotiations with IOE Faculty Managers.

I think we need to find ways to turn our large branch membership into an effective force for improving working lives for everyone at UCL. In the future I want to work with UCL UCU executive colleagues to improve transparency, engagement, and support for and by members by prioritising some different ways of doing things. For example

  • more special member meetings to discuss and plan branch policy and strategy
  • The use of online surveys and the like to get member input and feedback
  • Supporting subbranch member owned activist networks
  • Finding new and different ways to communicate in a more open and timely fashion

And to increase our branch focus on global climate justice and Inequality issues


Helen Donoghue

I have been a long-term member of the UCLUCU committee and wish to continue to do so. I am based at the Centre for Clinical Microbiology at the Royal Free campus. Before that I was based at the former Middlesex Hospital site next to the BT Tower.

I have belonged to AUT, then UCU, since I I completed my PhD and became a member of staff. I was a member of the national executive committee of AUT and served as the head of conditions of service.

Due to my involvement with conditions of service, I was appointed to be a member of Employment Tribunals until I reached retirement age in my early seventies.

I am now on a post-retirement contract, and formerly regularly attended UCU conferences. Now I am still actively involved in the union, but based on the UCLUCU branch.

I am very willing to continue my involvement with the union and trust that I can continue to do so.


Tony Brown

I was first elected as a Departmental UCU Representative in ISD, and then to the UCL UCU Executive Committee in June 2009, and have held branch officer positions, initially as President, and then as Secretary, since 2011.

In 2016 UCL management victimised me for my union activities in ISD. With the backing of the UCU I fought a long campaign for redress. We won an ET case against UCL in 2018. UCL appealed and lost at an EAT in December 2020. The EAT judgement set legal precedent, and strengthens the right of all trade unionists to engage in trade union activities in the workplace without fear of victimisation.

I have supported the local UCU branch through a period of transformative change in the sector, and have worked hard to ensure that the growth of our branch membership in the run-up to the 2018 USS strikes translated into stronger local union organisation.

More recently I’ve helped us respond to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, adopting the use of on-line meetings to support participation in our activities and decision making. I’ve worked with local reps and activists to pioneer novel approaches to ‘Get The Vote Out’, and effective and safe strike organisation.

I’m seeking re-election so that I can continue to support our branch activities for the coming year. 

Bella Vivat

Colleagues: Aligned with others on Strengthening participation & effective support of our branch members, I am seeking your votes to elect me to the Branch Executive Committee (EC)

I am a full-time researcher, and previously EC Anti-Casualisation Officer, engaging as such with UCL Covid management during 2020-21, and the Research Staff Network. I continue regularly attending UCU conferences, including on anti-casualisation, and am an elected member of UCL Academic Board.  

I think some changes to the makeup of the EC would improve aspects of how the branch runs.  

Key points include:  

  • Clarifying roles and length of terms for all officers.
  • Employing a branch administrator full-time, on a permanent contract, with trade union rights, not on a temporary contract with no TU rights, as at present. This should be a core principle for any trade union, and it also assists with fully supporting our members.
  • Improving case-work management and member support, including one or more dedicated case-work officer/s who regularly report back on progress.
  • More direct engagement of the wider membership for broader feedback on major decisions, e.g. via polls and surveys.
  • Greater focus on developing member networks and strategies to enable more members to engage directly.
  • Circulating Branch Meeting Agendas and motions in good time, not at very short notice.
  • Ensuring that meetings run to time, with votes (including votes to extend the meeting) during the time scheduled.
  • Arranging more specific, dedicated meetings for discussing significant branch issues, rather than abbreviated exchanges on multiple motions, followed immediately by votes.