Thousands of new members joined UCU throughout our transformative USS strikes. We have a new vibrant union. A meeting took place today of the Higher Education Committee where it was apparent from the outset that the union structures and current leadership are not recognising this. It felt like business as usual.
The bureaucratic nature of the national meetings has always been frustrating in UCU but it was doubly so today in light of our new energised membership, aware of their power and collective potential. The Chair dominated much of the time available, dwelling on how he planned to conduct the business. The paper addressing the terms of reference for the new USS Joint Expert Panel (JEP), produced by the relevant paid UCU official and circulated at the start of meeting, was put to the vote with NO contributions permitted from the elected members due to lack of time. Despite protestations we were not allowed to amend the recommendations in the report that we were voting on. A motion on redundancies at Liverpool was also allowed to drop off the agenda.
In these national meetings the left always argues hard but the composition means we lose the votes as we are the minority. Activists need to sweep away the old guard in the union leadership positions in future NEC elections. In the meantime, keep building the grass roots within your union branches; this is how we will secure a victory in the USS dispute. London Region UCU has organised an activist day school for tomorrow (Saturday 28 April) – this provides space to debate how we can turn around the union from the bottom, through the middle, to the top.
27 April 2018
A separate report of the other business of the HEC meeting and the USS JNC meeting will follow.