14 November 2014

UCL Push for national HE sector conference

The following were passed at a well attended UCU UCL EGM today:

Motion 1: Responding to pay-docking threats at UCL

UCL UCU notes

  • that UCL has not announced how it proposes to treat Action Short of a Strike (ASOS);
  • the announcement by IOE management of 25% pay deductions for participation in ASOS with the threat that deductions may be increased to 100% retrospectively, and that IOE is set to merge with UCL on 6 December;
  • that the losses members face from the UUK’s proposals on USS are large, and that this impacts on many Deans and Heads of Departments who stand to have their pensions devalued also.

UCL UCU believes

  • that it is probable that UCL will adopt a similar position to IOE;
  • that 25% is a figure that has been settled on as being costly for members, but has no relation to either the proportion of time spent on marking in the Autumn Term or the impact of an assessment boycott on students.

UCL UCU resolves

  • if UCL declares it will levy punitive deductions (including 25% of salary), to consult members on calling strike action locally involving the whole branch membership, including the possibility of extended strikes (longer than one day at a time) and to create links with other branches also consulting on escalating to strike action;
  • to challenge all pay deductions for partial performance in terms of their actual proportionality, contractual obligations, etc.;
  • to call on all members unable to participate in ASOS to make a contribution to a local hardship fund to support members taking part in ASOS;
  • to call General Meetings to continually review our position and update members.

Motion 2: Building local and national action to defend USS

UCL UCU notes:

  • the seriousness of the attack on future benefits for members of the USS pension scheme;
  • the health of the scheme which has almost doubled in membership over ten years, for which contributions continue to exceed payments and which shows a historic high in its current FTSE valuation;
  • the very high vote for industrial action resulting from the recent ballot over proposed changes to the USS pension scheme (77.8% for strike action; 86.7% for action consisting of action short of a strike (ASOS))

UCL UCU also notes:

  • that action short of a strike (ASOS), in the form of an assessment and marking boycott began on 6 November;
  • the vote at the Special Pre-92 Conference in September that the union would respond with national industrial action if any institution was threatened with significant pay docking resulting from ASOS;
  • the announcement by Management of the Universities of Liverpool, Bradford and York that they intend to dock 100% of pay to UCU members who carry out the ASOS — unless they personally repudiate the action — until the end of the dispute;
  • that while the University of York has said it will ‘review’ its position, UCU branches at the Universities of Bradford and Liverpool have called for indefinite strike action to defend members;
  • that University of Liverpool UCU has called for a Special HE Sector Conference to allow reps to debate the campaigns to defend pensions in HE.

UCL UCU believes:

  • that the UCU’s ability to call ASOS is under threat by employers’ disproportionate threats and the UCU’s failure to call national strike action to back up ASOS;
  • that the risk of the current situation is that the UCU is divided between ‘tough’ employers and those adopting a ‘wait-and-see’ approach with much lower levels of deductions (such as 25%).

UCL UCU resolves:

  • to campaign and build the assessment and marking boycott, to organise local meetings, to encourage all members engaged in marking to participate and to explain what is at stake;
  • to support members who are faced with pay docking, including, if necessary by a local levy;
  • to call regular General Meetings to discuss the conduct of the dispute;
  • to call on HEC Officers to authorise escalating national strike action in pursuit of the aims of the USS dispute, in addition to ASOS.

UCL UCU supports the call for the requisition of a Special HE Sector Conference to:

  • to address the employers’ escalation at the University of Liverpool and other institutions, and the provocation and threat to the national union that it represents;
  • 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.

UCL UCU urges all UCU branches to call for this Special HE Sector Conference.

Motion 3: Defending frontline UCU branches

UCL UCU notes the announcement that University of Liverpool UCU is seeking a mandate for indefinite strike action unless their employer withdraws the threat of 100% pay deductions, and that other UCU branches faced with the same threat such as the University of Bradford may follow suit.

UCL UCU resolves

  • to call for a national strike levy to support branches taking such action
  • to support national actions short of industrial action, such as regional and national demonstrations and protests
  • to call for HEC officers to authorise escalating national strike action alongside ASOS

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