On Saturday 9th June, around 80 UCU members, all but one or two of whom attended this year’s congress two weeks ago, came together in London for a meeting to discuss After UCU Congress…where next?
The meeting was called by London Region’s #UCUTransformed, agreed by 130 Congress delegates who met on the evening of the first staff walkout, and was supported by Branch Solidarity Network.
Members came from branches all over the country: universities of Edinburgh, Bournemouth, Leeds and Leeds Beckett, Liverpool, Lancaster, Brighton, York, Kent, Oxford, Cambridge, Hertfordshire, Royal Holloway, SOAS, Imperial, Kings College, Central School of Speech and Drama, City, St Georges, Reading, Queen Mary, London Met, LSBU, Roehampton, Westminster, Writtle University College; colleges of Sheffield Hallam, Bourneville, Epping Forest, Westminster Kingsway, Tower Hamlets, Lewisham Southwark, Lambeth, Hackney, North West London, Redbridge, Croydon, City and Islington; Sutton and Hackney Adult Education; South West Region, London Region and Yorkshire and Humberside Retired Members branches; and Disabled Members and Black Members committees.
The discussion was centred around the fallout of the staff walkouts, the refusal to allow motions 10 & 11 to be heard, the shutting down of congress and how the issue of democracy links to the campaigns on pay, pensions and equality in HE and FE.
There was a wide-ranging and serious debate about how to respond to the aftermath of Congress and was conducted in a calm, thoughtful way as members sought to find a way forward on issues by engaging with each others’ contributions, processing arguments and suggestions and building organically towards some jointly agreed outcomes and proposals.
Key discussions centred around:
- the importance of intertwining the pay, pensions and Equality campaigns in both sectors with the issue of democracy and who runs our union, which arose from the mass pickets, teach outs, lobbies, marches, strikes committees etc. And that it’s our collective activity that allows democracy to flourish and gives us power to hold the leadership to account
- getting as many branches a possible to at least support hearing motions 10 & 11, whilst recognising many more will want to call for resignation of the General Secretary,
- How we overcome the division in the union between the leadership and members
There was general agreement on recognising the importance of challenging the GS and linking the campaign for democracy with the struggles over pay, pensions and Equality and, through this, building new democratic structures from below.
The meeting voted to take forward the following ideas and practical proposals:
– counter the post-congress emails to all members from Sally Hunt with the majority view held by #OurUCU
– send a note of condolence to the family of our HE comrade Dr Malcolm Anderson of Cardiff University
– collate questions to the GS that we need answers to and publish on the #OurUCU website
– ask as many branches as possible to pass the model motion calling for motions 10 & 11 to be heard, and to submit to NEC members
– build the lobby of NEC, called by London Region on Friday 22nd June at 10.30am outside UCU Head Office, Carlow St. “Allow dissent to be heard”
– demand that we get a GTVO campaign from HQ on HE and FE pay like the one for the USS campaign
– call for a discussion on having a layer of officials who are elected
– call a London Briefing on pay
– organise twinning of branches. More organised with less so, and cross sector
– ask for an ‘organogram’ of who does what at HQ
– request for UCU, not Unite, to staff the recall conference
– request a mechanism for NEC reps to contact, and be contacted by, their constituencies
– broaden the discussion by speaking to local Trade Union councils and other unions about our disputes
– find out how we can put motions passed at congress into action
– explore possibility of changes to motion 10 (Note: technically this can’t be done as the motion is already submitted to congress)
– get as many branches as possible to register for the Special HE Sector conference (SHESC) on 21st June. The closing date for registrations is 5pm on 13th June. Link to register is here,
– get as many branches as possible to the FE Pay National Activist meeting on 29th June in Manchester. Details to follow.
The meeting also agreed to hold a further meeting in October which unites all the groupings under one roof – #UCUTransformed, Branch Solidarity Network, UCULeft, #OurUCU etc.