Report from UCU Women’s Conference

Nita Sanghera

Nita Sanghera

We remembered Nita and shared impressions.  Saira Weiner, of Liverpool John Moores University proposed 30 seconds’ silence.

Employment issues

Kate Moran presented a summary of Maternity Action’s report on “Insecure Labour”, which includes powerful statements from union members, about the ways they are mistreated, ignored and neglected by their employers.  It is amazing how – although we’ve always known how precarious people feel when they are pregnant – we haven’t focussed on fighting for casualised workers who are pregnant.  It’s another case of intersectionality.  As there is with covid, there is also a strong link between all people with protected characteristics and precarious working conditions.

Feyzi Ismail, of SOAS, spoke so eloquently and clearly on the impact restructuring has on women, and on SOAS’ anti-casualisation campaign.  She is very keen that UCU identifies a case to support with our legal resources.

Black Lives Matter

Juliana Ojinnaka led an intensive discussion, in which three activists, all fairly new to their roles in UCU, talked about how they are affected by the BLM movement, how it is motivating them and how they are fighting for changes locally and nationally.  Sharon Clarke is a Prison educator from the West Midlands and spoke with tremendous fire; Themesa Neckles, of the University of Sheffield, spoke with real emotion about the difficulties faced by Black, Disabled, women; Naina Kent, our NEC rep for members working in Adult Education, gave us a clear, insightful picture of how we must not accept the tokenistic statements of various institutions, but demand to see results of new policies being put in place.

UCU delegate to the TUC

Sue Abbott gave a brief overview of her role as the delegate, elected from the WMSC.

Motion from the University of Leeds

There was time for us to discuss the motion, moved by Megan Povey, on “Caring responsibilities during the pandemic”, a very welcome and much-needed call for UCU to support branches to establish policies for safe, flexible working and no career detriment for workers who are also carers.

Honouring Nita Sanghera, our first Black Woman Vice President

Vicky Blake, Marian Mayer, Saira Weiner and Naina Kent gave us a picture of Nita, the fierce fighter against all oppression, and described how, in particular, she supported Stand Up to Racism and the UN Anti-racism Day demos.  Many ideas were suggested for honouring Nita at the Equality Confence  including to commemorate her with a Nita Sanghera block at the next UN Anti-racism Day demo.  Marian proposed a statement in the chat: “This conference recognises and honours the work of Nita Sanghera our first black woman VP.”, which was unanimously agreed.  We discussed how we can commemorate Nita permanently and agreed that this question must be raised at the plenary session tomorrow.  The Chair (Pura Ariza of Manchester Metropolitan University) advised that the question must also be discussed by some or all of the Equality Standing Committees when they next meet.

Egypt

Finally, Anne Alexander, from the University of Cambridge, shared a petition, for solidarity with human rights and political activists in Egypt: https://egyptsolidarityinitiative.org/eipr/ and asked us to show our support for Fadila Makhloufi, a young feminist activist from Morocco, who is facing prosecution: https://menasolidaritynetwork.com/2020/11/04/stand-with-fadila-solidarity-is-not-a-crime/

 

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