Congress sends a strong message to the General Secretary

Yesterday’s Congress debate around democracy in UCU and the conduct of the USS and Four Fights disputes in Higher Education showed a deep unease amongst delegates about the General Secretary’s leadership and her attempts to ignore democratic decisions made by UCU members.
Motion L1 from Brighton (narrowly won) and the Dundee censure motion 19 (narrowly lost) exposed the attempts to derail the dispute and demanded that from now on the General Secretary acts on the democratic decisions of members.
The General Secretary may have escaped censure by 15 votes but she should think hard about why the vote was so close. Jo Grady was elected off the back of the #NoCapitulation revolt against former GS Sally Hunt. Those who voted for her were demanding more democracy and more control over their action. But what we’ve seen in recent months is a constant second-guessing and overturning of decisions that has wasted the momentum of the disputes, leaving a small number of branches implementing the marking and assessment boycott and facing punitive pay docking without the support they need from the union.
It’s crucial that at today’s FE and HE sector conferences, which take place during the biggest cost of living crisis for a generation, we vote to fight to defend post-16 education. In HE that means backing motions which aim to reunite branches in action in the forthcoming academic year. 
The General Secretary’s plan to withdraw from the HE fights for a period of regroupment and relaunch action in a year’s time is a recipe for disaster. It will invite another year of huge pay erosion, further cuts to our pensions and a wave of job losses in which casualised, women and black members will bear the brunt. It would stand down the USS dispute right at the point when we could reverse the cuts that were imposed on 1st of April. Unions are built through action, not passivity and retreat. 
The key motion for getting our disputes back on track in today’s HESC is HE6. One of the amendments calling for a summer ballot is also necessary to ensure there’s no delay. UCU Left favours a vote for amendment HE6A.1 which calls for a disaggregated ballot.
The branches still implementing the marking and assessment boycott are showing that action gets results. Sheffield accepted a good deal yesterday. Just imagine what we could achieve if the General Secretary and our union’s leadership showed the same determination as our members! 
Voting recommendations for HESC are here
UCU Left’s FESC bulletin is here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.