Boycott of London Metropolitan University
The implementation of the academic boycott of London Metropolitan University was a major discussion. London Metropolitan University has faced major job cuts, victimisation of leading reps and growing casualisation. It is being set up for privatisation once the HE Bill is implemented. UCU Left members proposed an immediate academic boycott but unfortunately UCU HEC voted by a small majority to continue to drag its feet on the implementation of academic boycott by 18:13. Instead, the branch is expected to satisfy still further barriers set by national officials and officers. UCU’s majority on the HEC is made up by individuals who excuse their inaction for the union by blaming members and instead retreat from challenging employers.
UCU Left supporters should implement academic censure now and not wait. This means refusing to act as an external examiner, refusing to participate in conferences organised at the University and refuse to collaborate with the University in future research.
HEC supported proposals for a joint pay claim with the other higher education trade unions. Much of the debate focused on the need to emphasise an increase in the equality within the pay claim. If a pay campaign is to emerge it will require members and branches to start now in raising pay issues in branches. UCU will also produce gender pay reports as soon as possible to support local branches in their development of local gender pay claims. An industrial campaign would require action in the autumn term.
UCU HEC supported proposals to focus attention on health and safety activity and risk assessments for campaigning and identifying workload problems within higher education. Health and Safety can provide an important area of work in which branches and activists can place pressure upon employers.
HEC discussed the forthcoming valuation of the USS. UCU Left members proposed holding campaigning meetings in the 40 largest USS institutions in order to explain the importance of campaigning over pensions in our union branches. The 40 largest Universities are most important as they contribute over 70% of the income into the scheme. There is an important timeframe to influence the employers and USS’s decision over the methodology used to value the scheme. However, the proposal by UCU Left members to hold campaigning meetings was voted down by the majority. The majority of the exec while wishing to complain about branches lack of engagement with the details of pensions are refusing to engage directly with branches and members, instead seeking to survey members instead – something which will be highly likely to generate only low levels of response.
Leeds University and Sheffield International College. Disputes over changes to statutes in Leeds University and anti-union victimisation, following the success of winning union recognition at SIC, are starting to take place.