Fight to defend pay, jobs and working conditions
Congress 2022 is meeting at a time when working people are facing a major cost of living crisis, as well as continued pollution of the environment and greater danger of nuclear war.
Inflation may reach 10%. Some people can neither afford to eat nor to heat. Poverty is a deliberate choice by a Tory government which has savagely cut welfare benefits. Many working people are dependent on food banks and payday loans. There are predictions that fuel bills will rise massively in the autumn. This shows how disastrous privatisation of electricity and gas has been for working people.
We should also be clear that the war in Ukraine has not caused these economic problems. Fuel prices were rising well before the Russian invasion and the imposition of economic sanctions.
In the context of a rapid fall in working class living standards, trade unions must make fighting on pay a priority. We must build for the TUC demonstration on 18th June. Workers need strong trade unions, willing to take industrial action and put up a fight to defend living standards.
The first business will be approval of the agenda. Support the challenge to CBC’s exclusion of motion B12. Having sufficient staff in Bargaining and Negotiations for members to take effective industrial action is a policy issue which should be in the remit of Congress to decide.
Support motions 1-4, plus amendments in the first session of Congress. These motions address attacks on democratic rights and on the rights of migrants and refugees.
Support motions 6 & 7, and 12-14 in the Strategy and Finance section of the agenda. Vote to remit motion 10. Remittance will allow adjustments to be made to the budget to enable UCU to settle its pay dispute with its own staff, who are members of Unite. We can’t demand decent pay from our employers while denying it to UCU staff.
Further Education Pay
Congratulations to members at Bury College on winning a substantial pay rise. We salute those FE branches which have managed to win strike ballots and either negotiate better deals or are taking action over pay and respect for FE staff. We need more regionally and nationally co-ordinated industrial action on FE pay. UCU also needs to keep pushing for better funding of further education to provide skills training, training for climate change jobs and widening access to higher education.
Higher Education Disputes
Our members in higher education are putting up a real fight to defend pensions and to tackle pay gaps, casualisation and excessive workloads. These are justified and necessary fights. In a number of recent bulletins UCU Left has explained the challenges and problems in these disputes. Only serious industrial action will shift the employers so that they engage in meaningful negotiations.
Members in higher education have been through intensive debates about industrial strategy in recent years. These debates occur in a context of anti-union laws, which mean that many branches have won majorities in ballots for strike action, but not been able to take action because under 50% of members (sometimes under 50% by a single vote) voted. We see too now that transport workers may face even further attacks on the right to take industrial action.
The higher education disputes have also highlighted problems of union leadership. These have included:
- Failure to implement decisions of higher education sector conferences
- Delays in running industrial action ballots
- Excessively short ballot periods
- Attempts to separate the Four Fights and USS Pensions disputes
For these reasons UCU supports motion 19 from Dundee University. This is a democratic issue which concerns all members.
A fuller argument for motion 19 can be found here.
Experiences of Rule 13 complaints have highlighted a number of issues, including length of time cases take, the stresses to all parties involved and the amount of work for both lay members and UCU staff that the process can involve. It is time for a review of the process. Support motions 15 and 16.
See here for more details.
Support motion 20 from NEC on International work of UCU, plus the amendment. Motions 21-23 address the war on Ukraine. We recommend support for all three motions. We must condemn the Russian invasion and demand withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine. We must also demand support for Ukrainian refugees. Oppose amendment 23A.1 which seeks to remove references to NATO’s role in the crisis.
Support motion 24 and the amendment. This motion condemns Israeli apartheid and anti-BDS legislation.
Other SFC business
We recommend support for motions 26-31. It is important that we have a discussion about defending the Teachers’ Pension Scheme.
We recommend support for all motions in this section. There are a number of important issues addressed in motions on equality. These include:
Defending abortion rights
If abortion rights are rolled back in the USA, this will encourage anti-abortion forces worldwide. Women’s lives are at stake. Some anti-abortionists will also try to impose limitations on access to contraception.
Banning conversion therapy
We must demand a total ban. It is wrong as the UK government has tried to do to claim that a ban on conversion therapy would prevent proper counselling of transgender children.
Supporting trans and non-binary rights
This means continuing the campaign for reform of the Gender Recognition Act to permit self-identification. This is a necessary legal reform, which has already been implemented in some countries. Motions 38-42 aim to set new policy and build on existing resources union members have to tackle attacks on trans people’s rights, safety, and bodily autonomy. We recommend voting FOR all these motions and amendment 38A.1, and to not challenge the ruling of CBC in the supplement to the second report. This is important to ensure aspects of the motion ruled in-order are passed (and remain valid), and new policy on developing resources on academic freedom is created.
Legal recognition of non-binary people
Though not directly addressed at this Congress, non-binary people need a status in law, so that they can obtain recognition of existence and access appropriate services.
Gender and Ethnicity Pay Gaps
Support motion 34 from the Black Members’ Standing Committee which proposes actions on gender and ethnicity pay gaps.
Support for refugees and migrants
Support motion 43 and composite 44. We must oppose moves to send refugees to Rwanda.
This section raises debates around the rights of student members, composition of Congress and the implementation of Sector Conference decisions.
We call for support for motion 56, which requires decisions of sector conferences to be implemented, and motion 57, which provides for the constitution of industrial action committees. These will enhance democratic management of our disputes and help to avoid many of the problems that have dogged the HE disputes in particular.
Support motions 46-51. While UCU’s work in the coming year will rightly be focussed very much on defending, pay, jobs and conditions, we also as a union need to continue our educational work, resisting the marketisation of education, defending education standards and access to education.
ROCC and Climate Issues
This final section of Congress business contains motions on building the union, resisting trade union victimisation, developing the green new deal and supporting better social care. We recommend support for all motions in this section.
UCU Left recommends a vote for the following candidates:
- HE Pay Negotiators: Marian Mayer, Sean Wallis
- USS Negotiators: Deepa Driver, Marion Hersh
Please do vote for our candidates. It makes a difference who gets elected.