Report of NEC meeting, 27th June 2014
The NEC meeting was a half day event in accordance with cost-saving decisions taken by the previous NEC last year. This meant that there was limited time for discussion and decision-making and the meeting had to be slightly extended in order to complete some essential business.
Key items (not necessarily in order of agenda items):
- Lambeth College dispute – motion and statement
- Disaffiliation to the Trade Union Coordinating Group
- The Carr Review
- Return to 3 day Congress in 2015
Lambeth College dispute
This is a central issue for the whole union. The Lambeth College branch Secretary, Mandy Brown, who is an NEC member, was unable to attend the NEC due to talks at the college, but a verbal report of the dispute was given to the meeting and the great success of the day of solidarity action on Wednesday 25th June was noted. The ‘Wall of Support’ was particularly impressive with many hundreds of messages and photos.
A motion had been submitted to the NEC which included a statement of continuing support for the dispute, including a levy of members, and clear support for branch officers under threat of redundancy. It called for protests if any of the Lambeth officers are made redundant, and also called for the greylisting (academic boycott) of Lambeth College.
After discussion of technical issues a statement on Lambeth was agreed which urged branches to fundraise for the strike and instructed the GS to plan for a national levy should the executive choose that method.
10th July pay strikes
The NEC also passed a motion urging all branches to give practical solidarity to unions taking part in 10th July strikes over pay, such as inviting speakers to meetings, organising collections, attending rallies where possible, and so on.
GS’s report, and disaffiliation from the Trade Union Coordinating Group
The General Secretary’s report covered a number of issues. Notably, there was a proposal to amend the legal scheme criteria for the support of tribunal claims aimed at increasing the number of equality related claims being brought forward by members. NEC approved this proposal.
The GS also proposed disaffiliation from the Trade Union Coordinating Group (TUCG) in favour of affiliation to a think tank, the Centre for Labour and Social Studies (CLASS).
This was proposed partly on the basis of cost (£3000 annual affiliation instead of £7000), but also on the grounds of supposed relevance.
UCU has been affiliated to the TUCG for some years on the basis that it involves a number of like-minded unions and sympathetic MPs such as John McDonnell. Originally it involved a number of unions in the ‘Awkward Squad’.
A number of NEC members spoke against the disaffiliation proposal, not least because it meant disaffiliating from a forum with the potential to campaign over austerity and other issues in favour of a passive affiliation to a think tank which basically produces briefings.
An amendment to delay disaffiliation led to a tied vote and hence the rejection of that amendment due to the status quo ante convention, and disaffiliation was subsequently carried by 30 votes to 23.
The Carr Review
The Carr Review has been set up by the government to consider so-called ‘extreme tactics’ in industrial disputes and so-called leverage tactics. It is clearly a propaganda tool aimed at the trade union movement.
The TUC has produced a fairly robust response on behalf of affiliated unions and has asked unions not to make individual responses so as to avoid giving the review any more than legitimacy than it deserves.
After discussion NEC agreed to support the TUC request and not submit a separate response.
Revised Budget and 3-day Congress in 2015.
In light of the Congress resolution calling for a three day Congress next year NEC was presented with a revised annual budget to take account of this. The revised budget was agreed.
The General Secretary confirmed that in accordance with the motion passed at Congress, Congress 2015 will be for 3 days and negotiations for this are ongoing with the venue providers.
Motions from members
A motion expressing concern that a sizeable minority of branches don’t send delegates to Congress was passed, asking for a breakdown of branches that haven’t sent delegates to the last 5 congresses.
A second motion calling for support from branches and members for the ‘No TTIP!’ national tour and day of action being organised by War on Want was also passed.
NEC agreed two topics for motions to the TUC Conference in September, one on the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), and a second one on job cuts and the quality of post-school education.
Calendar and authority over the summer period
A calendar of NEC and sub-committee meetings was agreed, although comments were made by some NEC members about the difficulties of dealing with the proper implementation of Congress motions within the reduced number of scheduled meetings over the past year and those planned for the coming year.
Serious concerns were also raised that since the NEC does not meet again until early December this would mean that only the National Officers and GS would effectively be the back stop for member representation for nearly six months.