The text of all the motions and their outcomes can be found at https://www.ucu.org.uk/Congress2019
UCU’s annual Congress took place last weekend with the news that Jo Grady has been elected as the union’s new General Secretary.
This is good news for all those who want to extend democracy and strengthen the control of ordinary members over the direction of the union. Participation in the election was up by 50% on the last General Secretary election, the result primarily of the increased involvement of members in pre-92 universities since the USS dispute last year. Jo Grady is herself from that constituency and spoke directly for the members who electrified the union by taking four weeks of almost continuous strike action in defence of pensions and against the marketisation of higher eduction.
In her address to Congress, Jo Grady spoke about the need for union structures to reflect the needs and views of UCU’s diverse membership and signalled her support for an active, fighting union. She also repeated her promise to accept changes to her contract if the union adopts a recall mechanism for the General Secretary.
That Jo Grady’s election represents a significant shift in the UCU is reinforced by the defeat of Matt Waddup, the candidate of the appointed professional employees of the union. This group, along with the previous General Secretary, preferred to shut down both the USS dispute and Congress last year rather than submit to the will of members. Jo Grady’s election therefore represents the revenge of the rank and file following those events.
The final part of that revenge was the decision by pre-92 Congress delegates to relaunch the USS dispute. USS directors have rejected the findings of the joint expert panel set up after last year’s strikes which endorsed the UCU’s assessment that there was no deficit in the fund and no need for major changes to it. They are continuing with their plans to drastically increase contributions while slashing payouts. Pre-92 branches took the decision to ballot for renewed strike action in the autumn, something that would not have been necessary if the campaign had not been prematurely called off by the previous General Secretary.
Photo by Grant Buttars, 2019. Used with permission.
Congress delegates also voted to reject university employers’ ‘final’ offer of 1.8% on pay for 2019-20 and to initiate the preparations for a campaign of industrial action in the autumn. The crucial motion was from Brighton UCU which argued that despite most branches failing to meet the government-imposed turnout threshold last year, we have no choice but to try again this year. Failure to do so would signal to the employers that they can continue to impose real term pay cuts, ignore the gender pay gap and maintain high levels of casualisation with impunity. Last year’s ballots showed huge majorities in favour of action over pay, and UCU branches are increasingly following the example of Brighton UCU in finding ways to beat the 50% threshold in local ballots.
Organising a disaggregated ballot will mean that post-92 branches that exceed the turnout can take industrial action alongside pre-92 branches fighting over the pensions, and creates the prospect of a joint battle over pay and pensions this autumn.
There was a palpable sense of optimism that the union has turned a corner in its ability to win disputes. Winchester University is one of a number of HE branches which has fought off compulsory redundancies by winning a ballot and threatening strike action, while rolling strikes in FE colleges are wining real-terms pay rises for the first time in a generation.
FE branches are also showing the way on casualisation, several of them having won agreements, as a result of strike action, to shift temporary staff onto permanent contracts. Numerous motions committed the union to redoubling its efforts to end the scourge of casualisation in HE too.
For the same reason that the employers want to trash USS pensions in the pre-92 universities, the Teachers’ Pension Scheme is under attack in the post-92 institutions. A single public sector pension scheme with defined benefits undermines the competition between institutions that the government is fostering. Marketisation encourages de-mutualisation.
Congress noted the tendency for post-92 university managements to try to push staff off TPS, a tendency which has been accelerated by the recent sharp increase in employers’ contributions. Congress sounded the warning that, like our pre-92 colleagues, we are likely to have to fight to defend our pension scheme.
Debates on issues of internal democracy continue to reveal the battle lines within the union. A rule-change motion from Southampton UCU provoked a protest in the hall from delegates outraged at its attempt to marginalise the voices of FE members and entrench the voting weight of pre-92 universities at Congress, and was comprehensively defeated. Unfortunately, a proposal to put control of national disputes in the hands of strike committees composed of branch delegates narrowly failed to win the required two-thirds majority.
The UCU has an excellent record of taking a political stand on a range of issues and urging its members to become involved. This year, three issues dominated: climate change, anti-racism, and the visit of Donald Trump.
There were many motions in solidarity with the recent school student strikes and protests by Extinction Rebellion demanding action to tackle the climate emergency. This is now such a pressing issue that trade unions must take it up vigorously. UCU is pushing for all colleges and universities to declare a climate emergency and to commit to being zero carbon by 2030. The call by Greta Thunberg for a general strike against climate change in September was welcomed and UCU members were urged to find ways to support it.
Congress endorsed the work the union has been doing with Stand Up to Racism in challenging the growth of the far right. News of Tommy Robinson’s humiliation in the European elections came through during Congress but the threat from the racist right remains.
Several motions from Brighton University branches were on the agenda of Congress. A motion from Grand Parade was crucial in committing the union to a fight over pay this year. Falmer’s motion on strategies for overcoming the anti-union laws passed overwhelmingly.
Another motion from Falmer calling for an audit on the union’s progress in addressing sexual harassment in universities also passed without opposition, as did an amendment calling for more help for branches to arm themselves for pay and jobs campaigns by analysing the financial accounts of colleges and universities.
Two Brighton motions were not debated due to a lack of time. One was on the Augar Review, which reported yesterday and is recommending a cut in the student fee without any guarantee to university funding; and one on defending Jeremy Corbyn from charges of antisemitism based on the false position that supporting the Palestinian cause and opposing Israel is itself antisemitic.
The ballot for the UCU general secretary election opened on Monday 29 April and closes at 12 noon on Thursday 23 May. If you would like to help support the election please consider putting up our Get the vote out poster and/or Jo McNeill posters in your office and shared staff areas.
For information about Jo McNeill's candidacy, please visit the campaign site: https://jomcneill4gensec.com/jos-blog
See also McNeill's campaign video: https://youtu.be/vdX3Mepcsw0
You should by now have received your ballot paper for the election for General Secretary of the UCU. If you have not yet received it to your preferred address (home or work), please let a union rep know.
It’s important for democracy in the union that you use your vote.
An election hustings featuring the three candidates has been organised for next Monday evening at East Sussex College in Lewes.
General Secretary Hustings for UCU 2019
Question the candidates for General Secretary before you post your ballot.
Monday, 13 May 2019, 5.30-7.00pm - Lewes Campus (Map and Directions)
Jo ran in the last General Secretary election, coming close to unseating the incumbent, Sally Hunt. She is the long-standing UCU branch president (chair) at Liverpool University and has been on the NEC for some time. Most importantly, she has a record of leading her branch in successful fights against redundancies, the imposition of new contracts and other attacks on staff working conditions attempted by management at Liverpool University. A member of UCU Left, she believes in a member-led union which regards the membership’s ability to mobilise and fight as its main asset. As her election posts make clear, she also understands that the fight to defend staff pay and conditions is inseparable from defending post-16 education - pre-92s, post-92s and FE - from the ravages of marketisation and competition. Jo’s flyer is attached.
Jo’s main competitor in the election is one of the senior full-time officials working at UCU head office, Matt Waddup. As a paid official of the union, Matt shares responsibility for the persistent problem in recent years of the union failing to implement strategy decisions made by branch delegates at annual congress. These failures have been particularly evident in successive HE pay campaigns. Like many union officials, Matt believes in a professional-style trade unionism pursued from head office which downplays the role of members fighting in their own interests. Matt was one of the key organisers of the staff walk-outs at last year’s congress designed to thwart the democratic right of delegates to hold the General Secretary to account over her conduct at a crucial moment in the USS pensions dispute.
The third candidate is Jo Grady, from Sheffield University UCU. Like Jo McNeill, Jo Grady is a rank and file candidate but, unlike Jo McNeill, has never held a senior officer’s position in a branch and does not have a track record of leading struggles. In CoCom’s judgment, she lacks the experience to be able to act independently of the full-time officials at head office.
The Coordinating Committee therefore recommends that you vote for Jo McNeill. But whether or not you accept our recommendation, please take the trouble to vote. Our new General Secretary needs a strong democratic mandate from the membership if our union is to be fit to face the challenges of the next few years.
UKIP is standing candidates in 14 seats in the Brighton & Hove City Council local elections. It has now begun street leafletting for the elections, most recently in George Street Hove. SUtR will be leafleting in George Street Hove (near Cafe Nero) from 13.00-15.00 next Saturday 27th April from 13.00-15.00. We will be giving out the attached leaflet, talking to people, and asking them to Stand Up To Racism, and to talk to their neighbours about not voting for UKIP,Please JOIN US for an hour or two on Saturday.
This branch notes
This branch believes
This branch calls on the Vice Chancellor to reverse the decision to dismiss Yaa and instead issues her with a permanent contract.
Elections for the highest lay office of the UCU are now open. You should shortly be receiving ballot papers for the election of the Vice President. Members of the National Executive Committee (NEC) are also being elected.
We are organising hustings next Monday featuring two of the candidates for Vice President. Jo McNeill will appear in person and Vicky Blake will participate via Skype.
The details of the hustings are Monday 11th Feb:
1-2pm, Falmer, venue Checkland A404
5.30-6.30pm, Grand Parade 204
Please try to attend a hustings, but even if you don't, make sure to use your vote. A strong, healthy union depends on the democratic involvement of its members.
1. UCU elections - hustings next Monday for Vice President candidates
2. Consultancy Policy - the University is trying to impose unilateral changes
3. Shrinking the University - is management planning redundancies?
4. Workload implementation - latest news and advice
5. Staff Development Review - relaunch of the scheme
6. Alternative forms of assessment - latest information
You should have received the email below from the UCU General Secretary announcing the start of the ballot over pay and equality. You will also have received a message from our management to say that the University of Brighton is imposing UCEA’s 2% pay offer representing yet another real terms pay cut even though it has not been agreed with the unions. Far from beginning to correct the decline we have experienced in the value of our wages over the last nine years, it exacerbates it. You can read the union's full claim here and click here for further information and the latest in the campaign.
Our dispute is about the overall value of our pay which has slumped as a proportion of universities’ income in recent years amid an upsurge of spending on new buildings. It is also about forcing our employers to address the gender pay gap and to reverse the growth of casualised contracts for lecturers.
A sector-wide fight over pay is also a fight to defend higher education from the corrosive effects of marketisation. The fee system and the removal of the cap on student numbers have widened the divisions between richer and poorer universities. This intensification of competition between universities is designed to force the collapse of national pay bargaining with the intention of driving down pay levels still further. If that happened, HE pay would be determined by local deals limited by the size of the bank balance of each institution. The pay of some in Russell Group universities would increase, while the poorer institutions - mostly pre-92s like Brighton - would claim that they could never afford a decent pay rise for their staff.
We will hear pleas of poverty from our own senior management over the next few months. We need to remember that the sector as a whole is richer that it has ever been. It is not our fault if these resources have become unevenly distributed as a result of the government's policy of encouraging competition rather than cooperation.
Just like our colleagues in pre-92s who fought earlier this year to defend their pensions, we are also fighting to defend a unified higher education sector.
Vote Yes to action and post your ballot paper straight back.
Following the shutdown of the union’s national Congress by the leadership, over 100 UCU members attended a ‘Where next for the UCU’ meeting called by London Region on the 9th June. Dozens of branches were represented including some from as far afield as Leeds and Liverpool.
There was unanimity that the assault on democracy by the leadership needed to be resisted and that members’ right to hold their elected leadership to account is essential to trade unionism. Participants debated the extent to which a change of General Secretary should be an urgent priority or whether it might be possible to come to a compromise with Unite over staff rights.
Others argued that the critical motions were no threat to the employment rights of staff in general and that the trade union argument had been confected purely to prevent criticism of the General Secretary. There can be no accommodation with those who want to stifle democracy in the union. But while the days of Sally Hunt are probably numbered, the focus has to be on carrying forward the energy and rank and file involvement which characterised the USS dispute into the important fights the union faces. Top of that list is a campaign of industrial action this autumn to reverse the chronic decline in our pay.
Many members will be unclear about what happened at UCU congress and will want to understand why there has been such an outcry. The issue will be discussed at Branch meetings at which we will have the opportunity to vote for motions and add our voice to the debate of what should happen next. Make every effort to attend - this about the democracy of our union. A good overview of UCU's national democratic structures and the case for reform can be found here.
The leadership of the UCU - General Secretary, President and senior officers - forcibly shut down the union's Congress before lunch on its final day (Friday). The pretext for this was that Congress could not continue following the staging of a third walkout by employees of the union - officials and office staff.
Despite a majority of delegates voting four times to hear them, the General Secretary and her allies were determined not to allow discussion of two motions critical of her. One is a no confidence motion with a call for her resignation, the other a censure motion. Both were submitted by pre-92 university branches critical of the way the General Secretary called off the USS strikes.
Union staff, who are members of the Unite union, claimed that their employment rights are threatened by Congress motions which criticise them. Since Sally Hunt is a recent recruit to Unite, they called a dispute with their employer, the UCU, in her defence and took wildcat strike action.
The majority of delegates were appalled at this blatant attempt to subvert union democracy and thwart the basic democratic right of members to hold their elected representatives to account. Immediately before the shutdown, Congress had passed a motion reaffirming the right of members to debate and vote on motions critical of their elected representatives. They had also committed the union to a recall Congress to deal with lost business at the earliest opportunity.
Sally Hunt will no doubt try to blame these calamitous events on a small minority of politically motivated oppositionists. But the leadership took the nuclear option of shutting down Congress only because they consistently failed to win support for their position among delegates. Their final attempt to secure withdrawal of the motions was lost by a considerable majority.
The majority of delegates who remained in the conference hall drew up and agreed the statement which you can see here. They vowed not to let the behaviour of the leadership disrupt efforts to fight on the issues which affect the union's members or impede a serious campaign over pay in both FE and HE this autumn.
There will be a report back from delegates at each of the forthcoming AGMs offering the opportunity for members to discuss this crisis in the union.
Cyprian Njue - Brighton delegate
Tom Hickey - Brighton delegate
Mark Abel - National Executive Committee member
Colleagues, Please find here my second report from UCU Congress. It will be circulated to delegates on Friday as the UCU Left response to the statement issued by the dominant faction of the National Executive Committee.
Tom Hickey, University of Brighton delegate to UCU Congress 2018
Remarkable scenes are unfolding at UCU Congress. Both morning and afternoon sessions have been brought to a halt by the walkout of UCU employees.
The issue at stake is the right of UCU Congress delegates to represent members ' criticisms of the conduct of the General Secretary in the recent USS dispute. The Unite union claims that these criticisms on the floor of Congress would infringe the employments rights of the General Secretary.
A motion from the majority faction on the NEC to withdraw the motions of criticism fell by 144 votes to 123. The motions address the role of the General Secretary in getting industrial action suspended in the USS dispute. One was a motion of no confidence calling for the General Secretary's resignation; the other was a motion of censure. Those who voted against withdrawal included many delegates who had reservations about one or both of the motions, but insisted on their right to debate them and vote on them.
In effect, depriving Congress of the right to censure the General Secretary, or the elected leadership as a whole, would render them immune from criticism by the sovereign body of the union. This and future General Secretaries would then be at liberty to act in defiance of democratic decisions taken by members' delegates at Congress.
It would also silence the voices of all those UCU members in branches who expressed their disapproval of the handling of the biggest dispute in the union's history.
Brighton UCU delegates
Moulsecoomb: This branch notes the threat to jobs caused by the loss of another year’s cohort at the Hastings campus.
This branch believes that it is perfectly feasible to avoid the threat to academic jobs by positive steps being taken to absorb - under similar contractual conditions as previously applied – academic staff based at Hastings and agreeing with them alternative teaching and responsibilities on other sites. This branch calls on the UEB to guarantee that there will be no redundancies of academic staff as a result of the winding down of Hastings campus.
This branch notes the threat to jobs caused by the loss of another year’s cohort at the Hastings campus.
This branch believes that it is perfectly possible for schools to avoid the threat to lecturers’ jobs by absorbing the relatively few academic staff based at Hastings and agreeing with them alternative teaching and responsibilities on other sites. They should not have to apply for alternative posts and equality means all staff being offered alternative teaching and responsibilities on other sites.
This branch calls on the UEB to guarantee that there will be no redundancies of academic staff as a result of the winding down of Hastings campus.
Members have voted overwhelmingly in support of industrial action against compulsory redundancies.
85% in favour of strike action, and 92% in favour of action short of strike. The turnout exceeded the 50% threshold now required by law. Many thanks to everyone who participated in the ballot and contributed to this excellent result.
Two members of staff, both UCU members, remain under threat of compulsory redundancy and we have informed management that the position of the UCU is thatt there is no genuine redundancy situation because there is still work for these staff to do and that more job losses are unwarranted given the departure of 90 staff under the severance scheme just a few weeks ago.
We have reiterated our position that unless the University removes the threats of compulsory redundancy, the union will pursue a campaign of industrial action.
The UCU Coordinating Committee has requested authorisation from the union’s national leadership for both strike action and action short of strikes in the coming weeks. Once authorisation is granted, the law requires notice to be given to the employers of at least two weeks before the action takes place.
We hope that our strong ballot result and the concrete threat of action will induce the University to rescind the redundancies during the coming weeks. But members will need to be ready to take action if management insist on sacking our colleagues.
We will keep members informed of developments as they occur.
19th December FORMAL DISPUTE -Management escalates
A special Joint Negotiating Committee was held to discuss the issues cited by the UCU in its declaration of a formal dispute with the University These are:
But despite having called the meeting within the time frame required by the disputes procedure, the VC refused to accept that the procedure had been correctly invoked or that the meeting was taking place under the auspices of the procedure. Her justification for doing so was that none of the issues the UCU had raised are matters for negotiation. Sustaining this bizarre position requires some tortuous mental gymnastics whose purpose is to claim that the University needs only to consult the UCU on most of the terms and conditions of academic staff, rather than negotiate and seek agreement with us on them.The full statement from the Coordinating committee is here.
16th December Board of Governors .
UCU and Unison lobbied the governors as they went into the meeting (see letter here) but in spite of their arguments, the report on the consultation which was clear that students and the community do not want to see this abandonning of Hastings and is critical of the handling of the process (see full report here) and the Student Union president speaking and voting against (see here), the Board of Governors decided to withdraw from delivering Higher Education in Hastings
9th December FORMAL DISPUTE - promotions, contracts, redundancies - as a result of the scale of the breaches by the management of the University of agreements relating to these three the coordinating committee felt we had no choice but to serve notice to the VC of a failure to agree under the Disputes Procedure. The procedure requires the convening of a special meeting of the Joint Negotiating Committee within ten working days. For more details see here.
9th December Is there a financial crisis at the UoB? The VC is keen to stress the financial challenges facing the university and her recent message to all staff played up the negative elements of the Financial Report 2015-16 but failed to mention a series of features which provide an interesting comparison with the previous year and present a different picture, see here.
25th November No to Hastings Campus closure! Lobby the Board of Governors 8am Mithras House Protest at the Hastings consultation sham!
21st November the third reading of the HE Bill - Have you written to your MP to protest at the folly of this bill? How is your MP going to vote? https://www.ucu.org.uk/scra[-the-HE-bill
19th November UCU members from Brighton were among the 15,000 staff and students demonstrating in London united for education
5th November UCUsupports RMT rally in Brighton
3rd November 6.30 for 7pm The Government's HE and Research Bill: WHY IT MUST BE RESISTED, AND HOW TO DEFEAT IT - For report see here
Speakers: Gordon Marsden MP (Shadow Minister for Higher Education), Sorana Vieru (NUS Vice President for Higher Education), Tom Frost (UCU Secretary, University of Sussex),Tom Hickey (joint author of the Alternative White Paper for HE)
30th October Deadline for the Hastings Consultation. This is not a consultation on whether the Hastings campus should close. The ‘consultation’ offers only one option for providing Higher Education in Hastings, which is essentially the complete withdrawal of the University of Brighton from the town and the transferal of two access courses to the Sussex Coast College Hastings. This is a UoB management recommendation on which there was no consultation and which is disputed and has been challenged by staff and students and their unions. As the student's union have said
"The University of Brighton has launched its consultation regarding the future of its provision in Hastings. Brighton Students’ Union believes this consultation is an entirely pointless exercise which only aims to create a smoke screen for the University’s true intentions of completely withdrawing its provision from Hastings." (read the full statement here) and read our response to the Hastings Consultation Sham here
We also believe that this consultation has been intentionally set for the summer so that staff as well as students have less of an opportunity participate.
Unison, the Student's Union and UCU will be responding to the consultation but please add your voice to the consultation and make your feelings known.
15th October Third Convention for the Defence of Higher Education, UCL, London, 10-5pm Register here: https://heconvention2.wordpress.com,
Speakers: Professor Alison Wolf (KCL), Professor Martin McQuillan (Kingston and CDBU), Malia Bouattia (NUS President), Professor John Holmwood (Nottingham and CPU), Gordon Marsden (LP Shadow Minister for HE), representatives of the SNP, and Green Party, andothers. Supported by the CPU, CDBU, UCU and NUS. Flier at: https://heconvention2.files.wordpress.com/2016/09/third-convention-poster-a4t.pdf
This is not a Convention to analyse, bemoan and urge opposition to the attacks on the quality and intellectual independence of HE teaching and scholarship. That has been done extensively already. This gathering is designed to organise Parliamentary, sectoral, institutional and community opposition to the Government's HE Bill, and to prepare for resistance to its consequences should the Bill be passed into law.
29th September Solidarity with London Met UCU taking strike action today
22nd/23rd Sept Most branches held branch meetings to discuss the national pay campaign with Grand parade and Falmer unanimously passing motions the progress of negotiations on workload allocation, the review of SDRs, threat of redundancy and to express solidarity with London Met University UCU striking over cuts and job losses on the 29th September
13th July Annual General Meetings have now been held by all branches - for new branch committees please see 'contact us'
5th July University of Brighton on strike in support of claim for #fairpayinhe. Full report and pictures under the Pay Campaign 2016 tab.
24th June Falmer branch AGM and Branch meeting pass this motion:
Motion on Working-to-Contract, Saturday Working and Open Days
This branch notes;
- that the university policy is to dock 1/260th of pay for every day of strike, thereby confirming that staff work a 5 day week and confirmation at LCIG (15th Feb 2015) that no academic staff are forced to work Saturdays
- that the action-short-of-strike which the union is taking in support of its claim for fair pay in HE currently takes the form of working to contract;
- this means withdrawing the large amounts of good will and unpaid labour the University relies upon to run, that members should perform no additional voluntary duties and no work beyond the 37 hours a week for which they are contracted
- and that for many members, participation in open days are an example of such additional voluntary duties and/or would take them beyond the 37 hours per week.
This branch believes;
- we need to stand in solidarity with members in other institutions who have targeted open days via strike action and/or action short of strike.
This branch resolves to advise members
- Not to participate in Saturday open days where such participation would constitute an additional voluntary duties and/or would take them beyond the 37 hours per week
- Instead to leaflet the event to publicize the UCU’s claim for fair pay in HE
25th and 26th May National UCU Strike for fair pay in HE join the picket lines in the morning and the joint demonstration with Sussex UCU at 12.30 on wednesday at the Level to March to rally at Old Ship Hotel at 2pm
14th May DEMONSTRATE against campus closure Assemble Priory Square 12 noon
See Hastings Campaigns page for reports of the demonstration
6th May 7.45 am Stop the closure of Hastings Campus Lobby of the Board of Governors Mithras House Called by Unison, UCU and the Students' Union
The campaign to stop the closure of Hastings Campus will lobby governors, pressing them to set aside the decision taken at the last Board meeting. The case for them to do so is:
4th May 7.30pm Public Meeting HANDS OFF HASTINGS! Stop the closure of Brighton University’s Hastings Campus Azur, Marina Pavilion, Saint Leonards-on-Sea, TN38 0BU Speakers include:
For report of public meeting please see the Hastings Campaign page
29th April Campaign website launched https://handsoffhastings.wordpress.com
22nd April BBC South East Today run Hastings Campus Closure story - see Hastings Campaign page
13th April HandsoffHastings demonstration assemble the Level 1pm to march to Mithras House
25th March HE news 43 sent out to branches recently sets out the campaign timetable and key events.
15th March Eastbourne and Hastings Branch pass following motion:
This branch notes
This branch believes
This branch resolves
14th March: emergency Eastbourne and Hastings Branch meeting Please attend to demonstrate your support for each other and to get support from other site members. Unity is strength 13.00 -13.45 Room 101 in Lacuna Place, Hastings.
11th March: Report of VCs meeting with staff and students in Hastings Please sign the petition to stop the closure of the University of Brighton sites in Hastings. Over 3,500 people already have in just three days. UNISON have also issued a letter to all their members condemning the decision and UCU have put statement on the national website
10th March: opposition mounts University of Brighton Students' Union have put out two statements (here and here) and reports have appeared on local news (see here and here) and a facebook campaign page. The Hastings and Rye Labour party have issued a statement condemning the decision as has the local Tory MP. Hastings UCU members have called for support and solidarity from the whole university community.
8th March: Board of Governors make decision on future of Hastings. In spite of the VCs rhetoric of "open communication", it was from the local Hastings Observer that UoB staff at Hastings discovered at the end of january that the university was considering closing down the Hastings campus. Staff and students and their unions have spoken out against the possible closure (see the Student Union statement) as have the Hastings and Rye Labour party, the Hastings and St Leonards Strategic Partnership and the local MP Amber Rudd. Today the results of the externally commissioned review were being put to the Board of Governors at an 8.30 meeting this mornings. As the governors arrived they were greeted by a 50+strong lobby of UCU and UNISON members caling for the university to honour its commitment to Hastings.
By early afternoon the VC has released a statement. This is UCU's response:
Members will have seen the VC's statement concerning the decision by the Board of Governors over the future of the Hastings Campus. The statement is less than frank about the actual decision taken.
The UCU remains committed to fighting to retain the Hastings Campus. We oppose the turn towards a corporate university that this decisions represents, and believe that the decision to withdraw represents a betrayal of the commitments the University entered into with its civic partners in the town. The University itself recognises that its operation is unlikely to be replaced by anything comparable in terms of its economic and cultural contribution, and that in the current climate the buildings may not even be saleable.
The University of Brighton has a proud tradition of not making academic staff redundant. The UCU will be seeking a guarantee that that record is maintained. Our branches have already passed motions committing the union to fight redundancies by all means at our disposal, up to and including industrial action. The possibility that university staff will be transferred to an FE college on worsened employment conditions represents a potential threat for all of us which we will also oppose.
27th Feb The second Convention for Higher Education will be held on Saturday 27th February 2016 to bring together as wide a constituency as is possible in defence of the sector, with the aim of defeating these changes. We welcome all those who share that commitment to join with us and campaign for the defence of the public university.Speakers from: UCU, Campaign for the Public University, Council for the Defence of British Universities & more. For more information see here
18th Feb HE London and South East Regional pay briefing- a series of regional / devolved nation pay briefings have been arranged for February. At the briefings, branches will discuss the campaign and provide feedback on the proposed timetable for action.
10th Feb Agreement by Eastbourne UCU Branch members in support of colleagues at Hastings
This branch notes
This branch condemns
6th Feb UCU's 3rd "Cradle to Grave" conference - this year with Jeremy Corbyn https://www.ucu.org.uk/defendpubed16
2nd Feb Motion on Hastings closure passed unanimously by Grand Parade branch text below:
This branch notes
This branch condemns
30th January March Against the Cuts. Demonstrate Against the Cuts
Saturday 30 January, 12pm, from The Level to Bartholomew Square, Brighton
UCU joined unions, anti-cuts campaigners, community groups, service users and supporters protesting against cuts on this march called by Brighton, Hove and District Trades Council to Bartholomew Square for a demonstration with speeches outside Brighton Town Hall. Brighton Anti Cuts Demo Jan 30 2016 - YouTube
27th January The Financial health of the University of Brighton. Much concern has been raised by the VC's references to challenging financial situation of the University and how staff costs contributes to this. UCU has done a bit of analysis of the figures which paint a different picture here.
12th January Junior Doctors Strike Meet outside Grand Parade at 10am to join UCU and Student Union march to Latilla building of the Royal Sussex to join demonstration at 10.30 (or make your way directly there).
11th January Press Conference of Turkish and Kurdish academics group "Academics for Peace" who have initiated a campaign entitled "We will not be a party to this crime!," following the atrocities committed by the Turkish state against Kurdish civilians over the last months.More than 1000 academics and researchers across Turkey have already signed. There is also a list of international academics who are signing for "support" . You can see the statement in several languages, including English, in the link below. If you would like to sign the petition for support, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org .
2nd December Free Education Demonstration, Brighton - Students from Brighton and Sussex University have called a demonstration against the marketisation of HE and student homelessness. https://www.facebook.com/defendedbrighton/ 12pm Victoria Gardens, Brighton
1st December Junior doctors' strike - Tuesday . For Brighton-based members, show support and solidarity by joining the branch banner on doctors' picket lines 10am outside the Latilla Building, Royal Sussex County Hospital, Eastern Road, Brighton There will also be picket lines at Eastbourne and Hastings hospitals.
30th November Brighton anti-war Organising meeting to restart a Brighton-based anti-war campaign group 6pm, The Quadrant, Queens Road
29th November Climate March London http://www.campaigncc.org/climatemarchlondon 12pm Park Lane, rally at Milbank 2.45pm
28th November Don't Bomb Syria national protest - Saturday http://stopwar.org.uk/index.php/events/stop-the-war-events-national/don-t-bomb-syria-protest-action-page
25th November UCU Caseworker training
A very successful one day training session for UCU caseworkers was held at Mithras. It was lead by UCU full time officials and attended by fifteen University of Brighton UCU members and seven from other institutions locally (University of Sussex, City College, Sussex Downs College and Chichester University). At Brighton we will be following this up with regular opportunities for members supporting others with case work to come together to discuss and share experiences. The more caseworkers we have, the better able we are able to support colleagues. If you would like to get involved in case work or find out more please contact Vicky Margree (V.Margree@brighton.ac.uk)
16th November UCU recruitment week
There will be lunchtime (12.30-2.30) recruitment stalls at a different campus on each day of the week: Monday - Moulsecoomb,
Tuesday - Grand Parade,
Wednesday - Falmer,
Thursday - Hastings,
Friday - Eastbourne
The more members we have, the stronger our voice.
4th November First meeting of the Lecturer's Common Interest Group (LCIG) where UCU reps negotiate with the Senior Management of the University - see November 2015 update in Lecturers Common Interest Group
We attach a poem sent by a member, written by the Somali poet Warsan Shire,
HOME by Warsan Shire
no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well
your neighbours running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won't let you stay.
no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it's not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
and even then you carried the anthem under
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn't be going back.
you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten
no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough
go home blacks
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off
or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
or the insults are easier
than your child body
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
your survival is more important
no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
run away from me now
i dont know what i've become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here.
2nd and 7th July Our colleagues in the NUT at the Eastbourne site of Sussex Downs College are on strike again on these two days against serious cuts which not only mean job losses but a huge deterioration to the service they offer. This will mean:
25th June Sussex Downs College NUT Strike against Cuts
This is one of a series of strike dates to oppose compulsory redundancies and government cuts to education. Cuts to Further Education now mean that funding for 16-18 year olds is now 25% lower than those in Secondary Education. These cuts will mean not only compulsory redundancies for teachers and more teachers being moved onto casual contracts without guaranteed hours but also major cuts in courses. For example Eastbourne will be left with no A-Level Modern Foreign Language provision outside of private schools.
Picket lines will be from 8:30am on Thursday the 25th June at the Kings Drive entrance to the Eastbourne Campus of Sussex Downs College. Supporters are welcome at the Picket Line
The UCU coordinating committee sent Sussex Downs NUT this message of support:
The Coordinating Committee of the Universitiy and College Union at the University of Brighton expresses its support and solidarity for your strike tomorrow. We congratulate you on your 96% vote for action and your determination to fight to defend jobs and to oppose the deterioration of the service that you provide. We are all aware of the huge challenges that another five years of planned Tory austerity mean for all of us working in education. Your action is an inspiration to us as we prepare for our own battles to come. We wish you every success.
20th June National Demonstration to End Austerity Now
A group from Brighton UCU went, joining an estimated 250,000 demonstrating against austerity and its impacts.
18th June UCU and NUT jointly convened a well attended public meeting on the University of Brighton Free School Proposal at 7pm Thursday 18th June 2015, Hanover Room Brighthelm Centre, North Road, Brighton BN1 1YD. More details and account of the meeting here
16th June SaveFE Lobby of Parliament http://fefunding.org.uk/tag/ucu/
13th June Preventing Violent Extremism? Conference here
9th June The outgoing branch officers have decided to re-constitute the AGM for a date when more members will be able to attend September the 30th at 1pm. Room to be confirmed.
9th June Falmer Branch AGM: Nadia Edmond elected as chair, Deborah Gibberd as branch secretary, Chris Cocking as membership secretary, Sara Bragg as Equal Opportunities rep, Linnette King as Health and Safety rep. They will be joined by the following School reps: Humanities - Angela Pickering, SASS- David Watson, Education- Mike Hayler and Erica Evans, Health Sciences - Chris Cocking.
4th June Eastbourne branch AGM took place. Thelma Lackey was elected as chair,Alec Grant as secretary and Josh Cameron as membership secretary. The officers elected at Eastbourne today will be supported by two reps at Hastings who had already volunteered - Abigail Wincott and Gloria Whittaker. The new Eastbourne officers already have plans for video conferenced branch meetings across the two sites.
30th March latest edition of UCU HE News is available here
24th March 7pm Friends Meeting House People’s Debate for the NHS General election candidates for Brighton Pavillion answer questions from the public on the NHS
20th March 7.30pm Brighthelm Centre, North Road, Brighton, General Election Education Question Time
For Motions for UCU Congress passed at quorate branch meetings see UCU Congress link on the left of this page
14th March Women’s History Festival Brighthelm Centre. A one-day festival of talks, workshops, guided walks and exhibitions to celebrate women’s lives, struggles and achievements. There will be activities for children throughout the day. http://freeuniversitybrighton.org/events/womens-history-festival/
5th March 8pm Rock against the fees. Benefit night for Free Education Brighton.Latest Music Bar
Thursday 26th Feb there is Protest outside the Council meeting at Hove Town Hall against cuts to local services and a march against cuts to Children's Services and Childrens Centres’ starting at 3.30pm from New Road BN1 1SD, A family friendly march will go to the town hall to lobby against cuts.
The Free Education Brighton Campaign has responded to our Vice Chancellor’s very public support for £9,000 tuition fees last month, with an open letter here
Troops to Teachers
We note the expansion of the Troops to Teachers programme led by the University of Brighton School of Education. Currently, around a third of trainee teachers are career changers who, supported by teacher educators (and UCU members), have made the switch into teaching from a different career. We welcome the contribution that such career changers make to the teaching profession when appropriately qualified, coming as they do from a range of backgrounds.
The Troops to Teachers programme, and its expansion, are justified by the claim that ex-service personnel from the Armed Forces have gained skills and experiences which are invaluable to teaching, and which need to be brought into schools. We reject this premise.
The experience and skills of ex-Armed Services personnel are no more relevant to teaching than are those acquired in many other occupations. To suggest otherwise represents a misunderstanding of the complex and varied nature of teaching as a profession, and leaves the programme open to the charge of contributing to a militarization agenda in schools. At a time when austerity and public sector cuts are threatening the livelihoods of many in our society, such as teaching assistants, and youth and children’s centre workers, rigorous and high quality conversion programmes to the teaching profession need to be open to a broad range of workers, which should include, but not be exclusively for, those leaving the Armed Forces.
UCU Coordinating Committee
Professor Sir David Watson
It is with sadness that we heard the news of the death of Professor Sir David Watson.
Professor Sir David Watson managed the process of transition from Polytechnic to University at Brighton with diligence and imagination, and led the process through which staff and students laid the foundations for the careful expansion and development of the institution at which we study and work today. A scholar of the work of Hannah Arendt and of the process of Higher Education, he also established, on leaving Brighton, a distinguished career at the Institute of Education and at the University of Oxford. Outside Brighton, Professor Watson was also a member of the Dearing Committee into Higher Education. Nevertheless, he was an opponent of the £9,000 tuition fees, and of the commodification of Higher Education.
The Coordinating Committee, and union members who worked with Sir David on the Lecturers' Common Interest Group (LCIG) at Brighton, and on the Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC), have expressed their condolences to his family on behalf of members at Brighton, and pay tribute to his work at Brighton for the University, and for his contribution to the understanding of Higher Education as a social good.
UCU Coordinating Committee
Academic freedom and the counter-terrorism and security bill
UCU is campaigning against proposals in the government’s Counter-terrorism and Security Bill which we believe pose a threat to academic freedom and this week saw high profile coverage of the union's legal objections and our letter signed by over 500 senior academics published in the Guardian. Help defend academic freedom against counter-terrorism bill duties, sign the petition here:
Fighting Against Casualisation in Education
The campaigning group "Fighting Against Casualisation in Education (FACE" is organising a national conference on the 7th February https://faceducation.wordpress.com/. Tne conference is free, anyone interested in attending please contact Patricia McManus to get details of how Brighton UCU can help with travel costs.
Annual meeting for staff on casualised contracts 2015
This circular contains the agenda and motions for debate at the annual meeting for staff on casualised contracts to be held on Friday 13 February 2015 and includes nominations received to the Anti-Casualisation Committee.
Higher Education Sector Conference
Following receipt of requiisitions under rule 16.10 from at least 20 Higher Education (HE) branch quorate general meetings, a special meeting of the HE sector conference (HESC) has been convened on the 24th February 2015 to debate the campaigns to defend pensions in HE and to defend the capacity of the UCU to call industrial action short of a strike as part of those campaigns. Branch meetings will be called to debate possible motions prior to the 12th February (deadline for motions).
At a very well attended Moulsecoomb Branch meeting on the 21st Jan, members passed the motion below unanimously. The meeting had been addressed by Mark Abel, Chair of Co-Com who updated members on UCU’s work to get the Head of PABS to not use redundancy as a way of managing staff when external research funds finished.
This Branch roundly condemns any attempt by the senior management to move the University of Brighton away from its tradition of not tolerating compulsory redundancies.
We call on the senior management to support those groups of our academic colleagues in PABS in securing their continuing employment and professional development at our University.
We insist that the current management team adhere assiduously to Brighton’s reputation for keeping and nurturing ALL its staff and not turn to the discredited strategies of dumping staff when pots of funding money or income streams disappear.
UPDATE September 2014: Trade Union action and Campaigning works! Hove Park governors have voted not to pursue Academy plans
General Secretary Hustings for UCU 2019
Monday, 13 May 2019, 5.30-7.00pm
East Sussex College, Lewes Campus
(Map and Directions)
Next Branch Meeting 16th January 1-2 pm Bevendean 103
Next Branch Meeting 16th January 1-2pm Watts 311
Next Branch Meeting: 16th January 1-2pm GP Room 202
Next Branch Meeting: 18th January at 10am in Hastings, Priory 204.