30 September 2012

UCU Left Report – Joint meeting of UCU members equality standing committees – 28th September 2012.

For some time members of the four Equality standing committees had felt that occasional joint meetings of committee members would prove to be fruitful.
The second joint meeting of committee members took place on Friday 28th September at Carlow St.

Helen Carr, Head of Equality, presented an overview of the growing attack on equality and employment rights. A general discussion followed in which a number of delegates emphasised that the best way to resist these attacks is through unity with campaigning organisations in the community and other unions, and it is better to develop the confidence and strength we need in our branches to respond collectively and through industrial action to management failings and attacks rather than to automatically respond through casework and the tribunal route. Speakers pointed out how the current attacks on equality include making it much harder and more expensive for workers to access and win tribunal cases.

There is clearly a debate to be had in these committees about how we generate the levels of confidence among members to pursue the collective action route but there were a number of contributions which emphasised the need for the union to produce materials which clearly flag up the Equality dimension in developing a fight back, and to ensure that in reps training Equality is centre stage and recognised as part of our industrial relations negotiations and strategy.

Contributions also emphasised that UCU should be playing a more central role in organising the defence of education. We need major campaigning around this. The quality dimension needs to be flagged up strongly.

Members present also passed a motion of solidarity with Bournemouth University branch (below) which faces de facto de-recognition and management failures to negotiate with the union over equality impacting issues, and also an expression of solidarity with Barnfield College members who are to take strike action this Tuesday.

Bournemouth University Dispute

This joint meeting of UCU’s Equality Standing Committees condemns Bournemouth University management’s de facto de-recognition of UCU.  BU has refused to consult meaningfully on its Equality Policy, leading to the production of a fundamentally flawed policy and failure to properly conduct Equality Impact Assessments.
BU management have:
*   Failed to consult on changes to the established working practices of BU members and the creation of legal liabilities and obligations on members in a proposed Student Charter.

*   Failed to engage in a meaningful and genuine consultation on Equality Assessment with the result that a fundamentally defective process which may discriminate against vulnerable groups or individuals is about to be rolled out.
 *   Refused to negotiate on the contractual changes affecting BU members resulting from the introduction of a Common Academic Structure (which seeks to impose standardised, semesterised patterns of delivery across the university, with significant changes to, and intensification of, members’ workloads and significant restrictions on annual leave).

*   Failed to consult with UCU on the outsourcing/privatisation of programme delivery and assessment to private companies.

In recognising the significance both to members at BU and more widely if such measures become a precedent, this meeting expresses its full solidarity with members at Bournemouth University in their resistance to these unacceptable practices.

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