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Business of the strategy and finance committee

UCU Congress 2011: Sunday 29 May, 16:00-18:00 (open session motions 29-39); Monday 30 May, 10:45-11:45 (private session motions 45-52)

Chapter 1 of the NEC's report to UCU Congress 2011:
UCU331.html | UCU331.rtf

Motions to be taken in open session:

29 - Recall General Election
30 - People's Charter
31 - Support for the Financial Transaction Tax
L9 - Emergency motion - care for the elderly

32 - Access to Justice

33 - Anti-trade union laws and new threats to trade unions rights
34 - Timing of Congress
35 - Amnesty International
36 - Threats to academic freedom in Israel and Palestine
B27 Detention of Ahmad Qatamesh by Israeli security forces

37 - Egypt and Tunisia
38 - Solidarity with Women in Tunisia and Egypt
39 - Libya
L10 - Venezuela

Motions to be taken in private session:

45 - Appointment of auditors
46 - Audited financial statements
47 - Budget 2011-2012
48 - Subscription rates
49 - Consultation with branches prior to press releases in which they are identified
50 - Union democracy
51 - Constituencies for NEC equality seats
52 - Representation of branches at sector conference


Public affairs (report paragraph 6)

29 Recall General Election - Sheffield Hallam University

The present government has no democratic mandate for its programme of massive public spending cuts and the 'privatisation' of HE. Congress therefore calls for a new general election to be held in order to halt the cuts and uphold our basic democratic right to a meaningful vote.

The 2010 General Election campaign by the parties in coalition was a fraud. Party platforms bore no relation to the programme the parties are implementing in government; Lib-Dem leaders made personal pledges on fees which were then reversed.

This is not just an issue of personal integrity: party representatives would not have been elected on their present policies and would have been unable to form a government.

British voters have been conned - we have ended up with a government committed to policies which are the OPPOSITE of those we voted for, making a mockery of UK parliamentary democracy.

LOST


Public affairs (report paragraph 14)

30 People's Charter - Northern regional committee

Congress repudiates the government's claim that public sector spending has contributed to the economic crisis or the current deficit. On the contrary, the government's attack on the public sector is an ideologically-driven manoeuvre to complete the agenda of the Thatcher-Major Conservative government. It is designed to end the post-war welfare state and open almost all areas to private profiteering, irrespective of the long-term damage to the economy.

Congress believes that the demands and policies of the People's Charter provide a real alternative to the Con-Dem programme of privatisation, tax cuts for big business, the destruction of public services and mass redundancies in both the public and private sectors. Congress welcomes the fact that the Charter is TUC policy and call on the NEC to help build the campaign for the Charter by affiliating UCU to it and encouraging branches and regions to help establish local Charter groups.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

30A.1 Barking College

Insert a second para:

'Congress notes the cynical use of the national debt/deficit by the government to justify severe austerity measures.
It further notes that the £43bn in interest is paid to many of the same institutions that were bailed out with public money not so long ago. In pursuit of the People's Charter, Congress calls on the government to renounce the deficit and to refuse to pay the financiers their pound of flesh.'

CARRIED

SUBSTANTIVE MOTION

Congress repudiates the government's claim that public sector spending has contributed to the economic crisis or the current deficit. On the contrary, the government's attack on the public sector is an ideologically-driven manoeuvre to complete the agenda of the Thatcher-Major Conservative government. It is designed to end the post-war welfare state and open almost all areas to private profiteering, irrespective of the long-term damage to the economy.

Congress notes the cynical use of the national debt/deficit by the government to justify severe austerity measures.
It further notes that the £43bn in interest is paid to many of the same institutions that were bailed out with public money not so long ago. In pursuit of the People's Charter, Congress calls on the government to renounce the deficit and to refuse to pay the financiers their pound of flesh.

Congress believes that the demands and policies of the People's Charter provide a real alternative to the Con-Dem programme of privatisation, tax cuts for big business, the destruction of public services and mass redundancies in both the public and private sectors. Congress welcomes the fact that the Charter is TUC policy and call on the NEC to help build the campaign for the Charter by affiliating UCU to it and encouraging branches and regions to help establish local Charter groups.


Financial Transaction Tax (new paragraph after 15)

31 Support for the Financial Transaction Tax - National Executive Committee

Congress welcomes the growing political support at UK and European level for a Financial Transactions Tax (known in the UK as a Robin Hood Tax) and instructs the NEC to:

  1. work with UK and European supporters of the Financial Transactions Tax for its early implementation as a key part of the economic and social reconstruction programme in response to the financial crisis
  2. mobilise members to argue the case for FTTs, and the role it could play in respect of climate change, international development and to press their MPs and MEPs to support a FTT to minimise the impact of cuts
  3. quantify what cuts in FE and HE could be prevented by a UK FTT
  4. use union communications to argue the case for the Robin Hood Tax and mobilise members to support the campaign and join up at www.robinhoodtax.org
  5. give financial support to the campaign.

CARRIED


L9 Emergency motion

Congress notes with concern the announcement today that Southern Cross has gone bankrupt with the prospect of their residents either being moved, to the detriment of their wellbeing, or being made homeless.

This is due to the lack of adequate funding for care of the elderly and the private sector no longer being able to make the profits they have had in the past. When care and residential homes were run by local authorities the question of profit was not an issue.

UCU Congress supports the TUC position that members and their families deserve this basic provision at the point of need in their old age funded from general taxation without means testing, and Congress calls on the NEC to launch a campaign to have this sector brought back under local control.

CARRIED


Legal threats to trade union rights (new paragraph after 19)

32 Access to Justice - North West regional committee

Congress notes with concern government proposals to

  1. extend the qualifying period for bringing an unfair dismissal claim from one year to two
  2. require claimants to pay a fee in advance, to register a claim at an Employment Tribunal.

An unfair dismissal is unfair whenever it occurs. To increase the qualifying period will encourage further bad employment practices and create further insecurity for employees at a time of serious economic downturn, and will potentially have a disproportionate impact on women and low paid employees.

Charging a fee for registering a claim at a tribunal will undoubtedly deter the lowest paid workers and those who are unemployed as a consequence of dismissal from registering a claim, however meritorious. To charge people for exercising a statutory right is unacceptable and is, in reality a denial of access to justice.

Congress calls on the NEC to campaign to resist both these proposals.

CARRIED


33 Composite: Anti-trade union laws and new threats to trade unions rights - Northumbria University, Blackburn College, Yorkshire and Humberside regional committee, South regional committee, University of Manchester

Congress believes that the Con-Dem government's assault on public spending and our living standards means that the ability of trade unions to defend themselves and their members is more vital than ever. The Thatcherite anti-trade union laws, left in place during 13 years of Labour government, are increasingly being used to undermine effective action in key disputes - such as that of the British Airways cabin crew. Congress expresses profound sympathy for and solidarity with any group of workers who may find themselves inadvertently involved in so called 'unlawful' strike or other industrial action when merely attempting to exercise their fundamental human and democratic rights. Congress condemns any suggestion that these restrictions might be further tightened.

Congress notes that these laws have consistently been condemned by the Freedom of Association Committee of the International Labour Organisation as not meeting fundamental International Labour Standards, especially as regards their over-technicality and banning of secondary or supportive industrial or strike action.

Congress believes that the cynical use of such flawed legislation to subvert the outcome of legitimate ballots threatens to remove the possibility of legal strike action. This development, together with the related attack by the ConDem government on Employment Tribunals, constitute a flagrant abuse of power and are designed to give free reign to employers to ride roughshod over basic workers' rights.

Not content with having the most restrictive anti-union laws in Western Europe, the ConDem government is threatening still more draconian measures, designed to weaken and fragment the strength of organised workers, including:

  1. ending facility time
  2. banning strikes in essential services
  3. requiring strikes to win over 50% support from all those eligible to vote, and
  4. reducing protection for strikers from 12 weeks to 8.

Congress believes that a coherent response is required from the trade union movement including:

  1. an industrial strategy of coordinated resistance
  2. a legal strategy involving strategic cases to the European Court of Human Rights, and
  3. a political strategy focused on ensuring that trades unionists are not left fighting unjust laws without Parliamentary support.

Congress instructs the union's delegation to the TUC and representatives on the TUC General Council to work towards achieving such an approach.

Congress further instructs the NEC to

  1. mount a vigorous campaign, alongside other unions and with the TUC, to scrap all such laws, including a lobby of MPs and a national day of action, with a view to repeal anti-union legislation and safeguard the ET as a forum for justice
  2. campaign with unions internationally for the right to strike to be protected.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

33A.1 Compositing amendment - Yorkshire and Humberside regional committee, Blackburn College

Add at end, point iii: 'be prepared to challenge these laws'.

CARRIED

SUBSTANTIVE MOTION

Congress believes that the Con-Dem government's assault on public spending and our living standards means that the ability of trade unions to defend themselves and their members is more vital than ever. The Thatcherite anti-trade union laws, left in place during 13 years of Labour government, are increasingly being used to undermine effective action in key disputes - such as that of the British Airways cabin crew. Congress expresses profound sympathy for and solidarity with any group of workers who may find themselves inadvertently involved in so called 'unlawful' strike or other industrial action when merely attempting to exercise their fundamental human and democratic rights. Congress condemns any suggestion that these restrictions might be further tightened.

Congress notes that these laws have consistently been condemned by the Freedom of Association Committee of the International Labour Organisation as not meeting fundamental International Labour Standards, especially as regards their over-technicality and banning of secondary or supportive industrial or strike action.

Congress believes that the cynical use of such flawed legislation to subvert the outcome of legitimate ballots threatens to remove the possibility of legal strike action. This development, together with the related attack by the ConDem government on Employment Tribunals, constitute a flagrant abuse of power and are designed to give free reign to employers to ride roughshod over basic workers' rights.

Not content with having the most restrictive anti-union laws in Western Europe, the ConDem government is threatening still more draconian measures, designed to weaken and fragment the strength of organised workers, including:

  1. ending facility time
  2. banning strikes in essential services
  3. requiring strikes to win over 50% support from all those eligible to vote, and
  4. reducing protection for strikers from 12 weeks to 8.

Congress believes that a coherent response is required from the trade union movement including:

  1. an industrial strategy of coordinated resistance
  2. a legal strategy involving strategic cases to the European Court of Human Rights, and
  3. a political strategy focused on ensuring that trades unionists are not left fighting unjust laws without Parliamentary support.

Congress instructs the union's delegation to the TUC and representatives on the TUC General Council to work towards achieving such an approach.

Congress further instructs the NEC to

  1. mount a vigorous campaign, alongside other unions and with the TUC, to scrap all such laws, including a lobby of MPs and a national day of action, with a view to repeal anti-union legislation and safeguard the ET as a forum for justice
  2. campaign with unions internationally for the right to strike to be protected
  3. be prepared to challenge these laws.

Internal matters (report paragraph 20)

34 Timing of Congress - National Executive Committee

Congress notes that in response to motion 35 remitted at Congress 2010, a branch/member consultation was carried out on Congress timing. 160 responses were received. A detailed report was made to the NEC's Strategy and Finance Committee, which showed polarised positions from FE and HE members in respect of bank holiday weekend and weekday scheduling. A majority of respondents agreed that alternating between these two options should be considered.

Congress therefore resolves that the scheduling of Congress should normally alternate between the late May bank holiday weekend, and the Wednesday, Thursday, Friday of that week.

Congress further notes that many comments were received about the importance of taking a strong stand over the right to time off for trade union duties. Congress further asks the NEC to continue to fight for facilities time and support branches in their attempts to secure this.

CARRIED


International (report paragraph 28)

35 Amnesty International - National Executive Committee

Congress congratulates Amnesty International on its 50th anniversary and pledges UCU's continued support. Congress welcomes the joint work between Amnesty International (United Kingdom) and the TUC as a way of boosting the protection of trade union and human rights around the world. Congress instructs the NEC to explore practical forms of cooperation with Amnesty International (United Kingdom) and to encourage branches and members to participate in this work.

CARRIED


International (report paragraph 30)

36 Composite: Threats to academic freedom in Israel and Palestine - National Executive Committee , LSE

Congress notes:

  1. Israel's continued illegal occupation of Palestine and daily oppression of Palestinian teachers and students
  2. the restrictions on the free movement of Palestinian Academics within the Occupied Territories and crossing between the Territories and Israel and on foreign travel
  3. Israel's ongoing construction of settlements
  4. the current witch-hunting of Israeli academics, civil rights campaigners and NGOs who are deemed to be damaging Israel's economic interests by their political activities
  5. the recent alarming moves in the Israeli Knesset to penalise Israeli academics who support boycott action or even just provide information which may assist boycotts; this law will lay academics open to fines of £5000 with 'no need to demonstrate that injury was done' and to unlimited damages if losses are caused.
  6. the petition from 155 Israeli academics expressing their 'unwillingness to take part in any type of academic activity taking place in the college operating in the settlement of Ariel', calling Ariel an illegal settlement whose existence contravenes international law and the Geneva Convention.

Congress deplores these attacks on the academic freedom of our Palestinian and Israeli colleagues.

Congress instructs NEC to:

  1. circulate to all members
    • the call by the Israeli academics
    • the PACBI call for academic and cultural boycott of Israel
    • information about the current legislation passing through the Knesset threatening heavy fines and other penalties on Israelis taking non-violent action against the occupation.
  2. seek a delegation to meet the Israeli Ambassador to raise our concerns
  3. press the Foreign Office to protest to the Israeli Government
  4. raise the issue with Education International and press them to seek similar action by all affiliates
  5. publicise these threats and our actions in response.

CARRIED


B27 Detention of Ahmad Qatamesh by Israeli security forces - National Executive Committee

Congress notes with dismay that:

  • Palestinian academic and writer Ahmad Qatamesh was arrested by Israeli security forces on 21 April from his brother's home in Ramallah
  • Qatamesh's wife, her daughter, her sister and her young niece were held as hostages in their home until Qatamesh was arrested
  • Qatamesh is now being held as an administrative detainee, allowing him to be detained indefinitely without charge.

Congress expresses its condemnation of this fundamental breach of human rights, instructs the General Secretary to raise the matter urgently with the FCO and the Israeli Embassy, and agrees to circulate the Amnesty appeal for Dr Qatamesh to all members, urging them to write to MPs and the Israeli embassy calling for Qatamesh to be either released or charged and given a fair trial.

Congress further instructs the General Secretary to call on the Israeli authorities to end the use of administrative detention.

CARRIED


International (report paragraph 32)

37 Composite: Egypt and Tunisia - National Executive Committee, University of Brighton Eastbourne, East Midlands regional committee

Congress

  1. notes that Egyptians have heroically taken to the streets to overthrow the dictator Hosni Mubarak and his repressive regime, which has been propped up for decades by the West
  2. congratulates the Egyptian people on the overthrow of the dictatorship, and extends solidarity greetings to those working to realise the goals of democracy and social justice
  3. notes the crucial role of students and lecturers in mobilising for the mass uprising against Mubarak
  4. declares its support for the Egyptian democracy movement and calls on the UK government to stop the sale of the tools of repression to the dictatorships in the Middle East
  5. applauds the Tunisian Revolution and ousting of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, as the inspiration for the region
  6. welcomes the foundation of the Federation of Independent Unions in Egypt on 2 March 2011
  7. supports the founding statement of the Solidarity with MENA Workers Network (http://menasolidarity.posterous.com/, launched March 2011 by Billy Hayes, GS of CWU, and Katy Clark MP).

Congress resolves to

  1. affiliate and donate to the MENA Network
  2. publicise the Network to branches and regions
  3. send messages of support to the Tunisian UGTT and the Egyptian Federation, congratulating their members' role and build links with the Egyptian workers movement and the emerging independent trade unions
  4. send a UCU fact-finding delegation, and invite representatives of Egyptian and Tunisian education workers to Britain to speak to UCU members and other trade unionists and students.

CARRIED


38 Solidarity with Women in Tunisia and Egypt - Women members standing committee

Congress expresses its solidarity with women and women's organisations in Egypt and Tunisia involved in taking action for political change, freedom and social justice.

Congress resolves to

  1. encourage branches to invite women speakers from the Egyptian solidarity movement and Tunisian (solidarity) organisations to meetings
  2. invite women Tunisian and Egyptian activists to speak to Congress 2012
  3. make links with women in education and other trade unions in Egypt and Tunisia, with the aim of providing them solidarity and support.

Congress further resolves that:

  1. solidarity with women, particularly women trade unionists, and women's organisations should be an important component of all solidarity work
  2. UCU solidarity meetings should consider specific impacts on women and the involvement of women in struggle
  3. encourage branches and UCU committees to specifically invite women activists to speak at solidarity meetings.

CARRIED


39 Libya - South East regional committee

Congress is concerned that the UK has become involved in another military conflict and the consequent humanitarian suffering. Congress notes that his conflict in Libya is now escalating beyond the terms of the UN resolution. Congress is also concerned about the impact such military involvements have on public sector spending and instructs its officers to work with the rest of the trade union movement in campaigning for an end to such conflicts and for resolutions to be sought through only peaceful means.

CARRIED


L10 Venezuela

UCU Congress notes the unilateral and unlawful sanctions imposed by the US administration against the Venezuelan oil company PDVSA for trading with Iran. Venezuela is a sovereign country and has the right to trade with any country it chooses.
Congress notes that oil revenues from PDVSA are crucial in funding the massive social programmes (Misiones) of the Bolivarian government in health care, education, job creation and housing.

UCU Congress:

  • strongly condemns US sanctions against PDVSA
  • rejects the growing campaign of demonisation of the Venezuelan revolution, which is deliberately timed to coincide with the run-up to the 2012 presidential elections.
  • reiterates its support for the Bolivarian revolution
  • calls on the trade union, solidarity, youth and progressive movements of the world to mobilise in solidarity with the Bolivarian revolution against this latest act of imperialist aggression.
  • continues to affiliate and work with the Hands Off Venezuela campaign.

CARRIED


Private session

Finance and property (paragraphs 1 - 4)

45 Appointment of auditors - National Executive Committee

Congress approves the appointment of Knox Cropper as the union's auditors for the year ending 31 August 2012.

CARRIED


46 Audited financial statements - National Executive Committee

Congress receives the union's audited financial statements for the 12-month period ending 31 August 2010 as set out in UCU/333.

CARRIED


47 Budget 2011-2012 - National Executive Committee

Congress endorses the budget for September 2011 - August 2012 as set out in UCU/334.

CARRIED


48 Subscription rates - National Executive Committee

Congress endorses the subscription rates from 1 September 2011 set out in UCU/334.

CARRIED

Consultation with branches (new paragraph after 5)

49 Consultation with branches prior to press releases in which they are identified - Edge Hill University

Congress calls upon the National Executive and Elected Officials to ensure that no press releases are discharged in which individual branches are named, without prior consultation with the branches concerned and that full consideration is given to the risk of any such exposure on the job security of members.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

49A.1 Edge Hill University

Delete: ' no press releases are discharged in which individual branches are named, without prior consultation with the branches concerned'

Insert after 'to ensure that': 'branches are fully consulted in advance of press releases that impact on the stability of institutions and the job security of members'

Add at end: 'in advance of release'

CARRIED

49A.2 National Executive Committee:

Delete 'call upon the National Executive and Elected Officials to ensure that no'; replace with 'recognises the importance, where'

Before 'prior consultation', delete 'without'; replace with 'of'

Delete 'and that full consideration is given to'; replace with 'and consideration of'

Add at end: 'Congress therefore calls on the General Secretary to liaise with those responsible to ensure that appropriate guidelines are in place'.

Note: CBC advice - If amendment 49A.1 passes, amendment 49A.2 falls.

FALLS

SUBSTANTIVE MOTION

Congress calls upon the National Executive and Elected Officials to ensure that branches are fully consulted in advance of press releases that impact on the stability of institutions and the job security of members and that full consideration is given to the risk of any such exposure on the job security of members in advance of release.

Union democracy (new paragraph)

50 Union democracy - South East regional committee, University of Brighton Falmer

Congress notes that:

  1. the UCU constitution is constructed to balance the needs of all sectors and regions, and to reflect the nature of the union as democratic, and led and controlled by its lay membership
  2. democracy is essential for the ability of a trade union to represent its members effectively
  3. democratic governance requires a clear delineation of decision-making status in the union structure.

Congress affirms that:

  1. Congress, and Sector Conferences for sectoral industrial relations matters, are the supreme policy-making bodies (rules 16.1, 16.2 and 16.3)
  2. NEC (F/HEC) implement policy between national delegate meetings, and do not alter policy, excepting exceptional circumstances
  3. debate in meetings at branch/local association, regional and national level is the foundation of union democracy
  4. branch/local association or other consultative exercises, while occasionally useful in informing debate, are no substitute for Congress or Conference debate, and that plebiscites are subject to populist manipulation.

CARRIED

50A.1 University of Essex

Delete clause (d) and replace with new clause

(TAKEN IN PARTS) LOST

(d) 'Policy does not mean detailed tactical decisions such as the timing of a ballot, or the date of a strike.'

(TAKEN IN PARTS) LOST

Note: CBC advice - that the two elements of amendment 50A.1 (delete clause d; add new clause d) should be voted on separately.


51 Constituencies for NEC equality seats - National Executive Committee

Congress notes that UCU's four equality standing committees and their annual conferences support the principle of NEC equality seats being elected only by members of the relevant constituency (representatives of black members elected only by black members, representatives of LGBT members elected only by LGBT members, and so on for disabled and women's representatives).

Congress supports the proposal to move to this principle for NEC equality seat elections.

Congress notes that it will require considerable work to collect more information from members about the equality groups with which they identify, prepare the membership database and draft necessary rule changes.

Congress instructs to NEC to:

  1. begin work to inform members of proposed changes, collect the necessary information from members, and carry out the database work required
  2. report to Congress 2012 on progress, with a timetable for implementing this change, including rule changes.

LOST


52 Representation of branches at sector conference - University of Essex

Congress notes that before UCU Rules were amended in 2010, institutions with 100 or more members were entitled to send delegations to Congress and Sector Conferences on the basis of one delegate per 400 members or part thereof, with a maximum of 6 delegates. Institutions with less than 100 members were aggregated. This ensured that the number of delegates from an institution was approximately pro-rata to the number of members.

Branches are now entitled to send at least one delegate to their sector conference no matter how small the branch, thus destroying the pro-rata relationship.

Congress instructs NEC to bring forward proposals for Rules' amendments to 2012 Congress to restore the link between the number of members in an institution and the number of delegates it is entitled to send to a Sector Conference. The introduction of card votes shared between a delegation's members should also be considered.

LOST

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