UCU Congress 2015

Motions passed at quorate branch meetings at the university of Brighton for consideration at UCU Congress and UCU Higher Education Sector Conference  2015:

Motions for Congress:

UCU and BDS campaign
Congress notes:

  • the achievements of the global BDS campaign, particularly in North America;
  • the overwhelming adoption by Congress (2009 & 2010), after four years' careful reflection, of a general pro-boycott policy directed at Israeli products and institutions, including academic institutions;
  • Congress decision (2009) that all colleagues be urged, in the light of UCU policy, to consider whether cooperation with Israeli institutions is morally or politically defensible;
  • that unions have no mechanisms to impose a boycott, and implementation is only encouragement of individuals to reflect, hence legal anti-implementation cautions are irrelevant;
  • advice to some members from UCU, and some public information about UCU's position, have been misleading or inconsistent with policy.

Congress reaffirms its pro-BDS policy.

Anti Union Laws
Congress resolves:

  • all members will be contacted individually, in a dedicated e-mail, reminding them of policy on Israel, and with a link to the PACBI Guidelines;
  • any misrepresentations of UCU's policy will be corrected publicly.

Congress reiterates its total opposition to the anti-union laws introduced by Tory Governments in the 1980s and '90s.
Congress deplores and condemns the failure of three Labour governments to repeal these vicious laws.
All of this has constrained unions’ ability to protect members interests.
Congress further condemns:
1. The increasing frequency of judges overruling democratic trade union balloting procedures on spurious legal and moral grounds
2. The intention of the Tories, if they win the general election, to make these laws even more draconian.
Congress agrees that it is even more vital now for the trade union movement to:
1. Campaign actively for the repeal of all anti-trade union laws
2. Offer full support and solidarity to all workers in struggle, including those whose action is deemed 'unlawful' under this draconian and archaic legislation.

Motions for Higher Education Sector Conference

Industrial Strategy

Conference notes the:

  • failure of HEC to implement the strategy determined democratically by Conference, and balloted on, in recent pay and pensions disputes;
  • substantial ballot majorities for that strategy in recent disputes;
  • failure of recent campaigns to achieve their goals;
  • consequent erosion of confidence in the union to defend national conditions.


Conference believes that the:

  • successful defence of pay and pensions is achievable only through escalating industrial action;
  • UCU's policy on industrial strategy, combining ASOS with strike action, has not been seriously applied.

Conference resolves that:

  • future campaigns will fully implement the strategy, combining ASOS with strike action, in line with Conference policy;
  • threats of punitive deductions to deter ASOS will be met with escalating strike action across the sector, and branches will not be left to resist alone;
  • no proposal to end national disputes short of their goals will be put to members without a special conference.


Teacher Education and Higher Education

Conference notes:
1. The removal of QTS as a requirement for teaching in some state funded schools
2. That alternative QTS routes have resulted in teacher education places in HEIs being cut by 23% since 2012-13
3. That while academic staff numbers across HE have risen, Education departments have seen a 7% decline in teaching staff since 2004/5 and increased casualisation.
4. One of these alternative routes, the Troops to Teachers programme prioritises entry to teaching by ex-service personnel from the Armed as they have gained particular skills and experiences which are invaluable to schools.

Conference resolves to:
1. Campaign with other education trade unions to defend the role of HE in teacher education and professionalism.
2. Campaign for rigorous and high quality conversion HE programmes to teaching for a broad range of workers, which could include, but not be exclusively for, those leaving the Armed Forces.



UCU Congress 2014  - Report from your delegates[1]

The national congress of the UCU was held in Manchester on 29th & 30th May. The Higher Education section of the conference was dominated by a debate about why the recent pay campaign had fallen so far short of achieving its goals. Although it was agreed that we would have won nothing at all without a fight, delegates expressed anger at the mishandling of the dispute by the executive (HEC), who were accused of departing from the agreed policy by de-escalating the campaign with the introduction of 2-hour strikes in January and delaying the marking boycott.


Members of the HEC responded by declaring their right to assess the situation during the course of a dispute and amend the tactics accordingly. They sought to justify their actions by pointing to the scale of the vote in favour of the 2% settlement in April. However, a majority of the conference supported those arguing that it was the lack of serious, effective leadership  – in particular the failure to use our most powerful weapon, the marking boycott – that led members to accept the offer, not a shortage of resolve on the part of members.


The meeting passed Brighton UCU’s motion of censure of the HEC which also condemned the leadership for failing to respond effectively to the punitive pay docking suffered by some branches and for publishing to the employers the full results of the April ballot. Conference reaffirmed its support for a ‘keep up and catch up’ pay campaign seeking a multi-year settlement from 2015. A motion calling on the union to explore local pay bargaining as a mechanism for topping up national pay awards was overwhelmingly defeated.


In general, the conference divided over the underlying question of what kind of union the UCU should be. On almost every issue, those with a vision of a member-led union, capable of fighting collectively to defend and improve its members’ conditions defeated those who sought a shift to a more top-down structure, focussing on providing services to individuals. It was disappointing, therefore, that the motion to create a new UCU branch at our Hastings site was narrowly defeated.


The full congress brought together delegates from HE and FE who expressed their shared concerns about the attacks on post-16 education as a whole. The union committed itself to redoubling its efforts to resist marketisation and privatisation as well as combatting zero hours contracts and casualisation for staff.


On wider political questions, an emergency motion responded to the recent success of UKIP in the European elections. Delegates warned of the threat posed by the growth of right-wing populist parties both to the non-discriminatory ethos of education and to trade unionism itself. The motion passed labelled UKIP a racist party and made UCU the first national union to affiliate to a new organisation set up to oppose it, Stand Up to UKIP.


Finally, the conference debated proposals from the executive to impose rule changes on local branches and regions. Delegates overwhelmingly supported the argument that the proposed new rules would weaken democracy in the union by giving too much power to the leadership, and rejected them.  A more detailed commentary on Brighton motions is available on request.

Mark Abel , Nadia Edmond, Patricia McManus  05/06/14

[1] For a full report of motions and votes see the UCU website: http://www.ucu.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=7082#he2 . The Brighton motions were HE2, HE6, HE28 and HE41.