25th June UCU NEC has accepted that the Recall Congress of UCU will now go ahead and debate motions 10 and 11. See report here
22nd June Brief report of SHESC here
9th June UCU democracy crisis
Following the shutdown of the union’s national Congress by the leadership, over 100 UCU members attended a ‘Where next for the UCU’ meeting called by London Region on the 9th June. Dozens of branches were represented including some from as far afield as Leeds and Liverpool.
There was unanimity that the assault on democracy by the leadership needed to be resisted and that members’ right to hold their elected leadership to account is essential to trade unionism. Participants debated the extent to which a change of General Secretary should be an urgent priority or whether it might be possible to come to a compromise with Unite over staff rights.
Others argued that the critical motions were no threat to the employment rights of staff in general and that the trade union argument had been confected purely to prevent criticism of the General Secretary. There can be no accommodation with those who want to stifle democracy in the union. But while the days of Sally Hunt are probably numbered, the focus has to be on carrying forward the energy and rank and file involvement which characterised the USS dispute into the important fights the union faces. Top of that list is a campaign of industrial action this autumn to reverse the chronic decline in our pay.
5th June Making sense of what happened at UCU Congress 2018
Many members will be unclear about what happened at UCU congress and will want to understand why there has been such an outcry. The issue will be discussed at Branch meetings at which we will have the opportunity to vote for motions and add our voice to the debate of what should happen next. Make every effort to attend – this about the democracy of our union. A good overview of UCU’s national democratic structures and the case for reform can be found here.
1st June UCU Congress Report Update
The leadership of the UCU – General Secretary, President and senior officers – forcibly shut down the union’s Congress before lunch on its final day (Friday). The pretext for this was that Congress could not continue following the staging of a third walkout by employees of the union – officials and office staff.
Despite a majority of delegates voting four times to hear them, the General Secretary and her allies were determined not to allow discussion of two motions critical of her. One is a no confidence motion with a call for her resignation, the other a censure motion. Both were submitted by pre-92 university branches critical of the way the General Secretary called off the USS strikes.
Union staff, who are members of the Unite union, claimed that their employment rights are threatened by Congress motions which criticise them. Since Sally Hunt is a recent recruit to Unite, they called a dispute with their employer, the UCU, in her defence and took wildcat strike action.
The majority of delegates were appalled at this blatant attempt to subvert union democracy and thwart the basic democratic right of members to hold their elected representatives to account. Immediately before the shutdown, Congress had passed a motion reaffirming the right of members to debate and vote on motions critical of their elected representatives. They had also committed the union to a recall Congress to deal with lost business at the earliest opportunity.
Sally Hunt will no doubt try to blame these calamitous events on a small minority of politically motivated oppositionists. But the leadership took the nuclear option of shutting down Congress only because they consistently failed to win support for their position among delegates. Their final attempt to secure withdrawal of the motions was lost by a considerable majority.
The majority of delegates who remained in the conference hall drew up and agreed the statement which you can see here. They vowed not to let the behaviour of the leadership disrupt efforts to fight on the issues which affect the union’s members or impede a serious campaign over pay in both FE and HE this autumn.
There will be a report back from delegates at each of the forthcoming AGMs offering the opportunity for members to discuss this crisis in the union.
Cyprian Njue – Brighton delegate
Tom Hickey – Brighton delegate
Mark Abel – National Executive Committee member