Business of the strategy and finance committee 2015 (open session)

UCU Congress 2015: Sunday 24 May 2015, 14:00-15:10 (open session)


Motions have been allocated to a section of the NEC's report to Congress (UCU635). Paragraph headings refer to paragraphs within this report. CBC has added some new paragraph headings to facilitate the ordering of motions.

Section 1 of the NEC's report to Congress

Motions:

40 - United for pay, pensions and conditions of union members
41 - Composite: Anti-union laws and coalition attacks on trade unions
L3 - Oppose anti-trade union laws - National Executive Committee
42 - Composite: TTIP
43 - UCU and BDS campaign
44 - Migrant workers in Qatar
45 - British complicity in repression in Bahrain
46 - Support for Steven Salaita (academic freedom)
47 - Solidarity with the people of Greece
48 - Violent attack on Garissa University College in Kenya
L4 - Loss of migrants' lives in the Mediterranean

(EP) advisory marking
denoting UCU existing policy

TUC, paragraph 3.1-3.4

40  United for pay, pensions and conditions of union members - Southern Regional Committee

Congress notes the relative failure of British trade unions in recent years, including UCU, to protect, let alone improve, the pay, pensions and conditions of members, in the face of hostile governments and judiciary.

Therefore, Congress instructs NEC to:

  1. work with other unions in the TUC to devise a strategy to maximise the effectiveness of union action within current constraints
  2. devise cost-effective ways to mount a legal challenge to key elements of anti-union legislation, such as the docking of pay for partial performance
  3. conduct research into ways in which trade unions have managed some degree of success in recent years and use this as the basis for training in preparation for future action.

With this initiative, Congress urges NEC to reposition UCU as a fighting union, unwilling to tolerate further detriment to its members' pay, pensions and conditions and aiming to restore lost ground.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

40A.1 National Executive Committee

In point 2. after 'devise', insert 'further'.

CARRIED

40A.2 Blackburn College

Add at end:

Congress further notes the fourteen day notice period between end of ballot and strike action: seven day legal notification to the employer and seven day internal authorisation period.

Congress believes that this internal authorisation is an unnecessarily long, self-imposed hurdle in proceeding to industrial action and does not allow branches the necessary maximum tactical flexibility.

Congress resolves to amend the seven-day internal authorisation period and replace it with a two-day period.

Drafting amendment from the floor: add 'or as soon as possible' at the end of motion 40A.2

CARRIED

SUBSTANTIVE MOTION

Congress notes the relative failure of British trade unions in recent years, including UCU, to protect, let alone improve, the pay, pensions and conditions of members, in the face of hostile governments and judiciary.

Therefore, Congress instructs NEC to:

  1. work with other unions in the TUC to devise a strategy to maximise the effectiveness of union action within current constraints
  2. devise further cost-effective ways to mount a legal challenge to key elements of anti-union legislation, such as the docking of pay for partial performance
  3. conduct research into ways in which trade unions have managed some degree of success in recent years and use this as the basis for training in preparation for future action.

With this initiative, Congress urges NEC to reposition UCU as a fighting union, unwilling to tolerate further detriment to its members' pay, pensions and conditions and aiming to restore lost ground.

Congress further notes the fourteen day notice period between end of ballot and strike action: seven day legal notification to the employer and seven day internal authorisation period.

Congress believes that this internal authorisation is an unnecessarily long, self-imposed hurdle in proceeding to industrial action and does not allow branches the necessary maximum tactical flexibility.

Congress resolves to amend the seven-day internal authorisation period and replace it with a two-day period or as soon as possible.


41   Composite: Anti-union laws and coalition attacks on trade unions - University of Brighton Falmer, Barnsley College, UCL, West Midlands Regional Committee, West Midlands Retired Members' Branch

Congress reiterates its total opposition to the anti-union laws introduced by Tory governments in the 1980s and '90s. Congress deplores and condemns the failure of three Labour governments to repeal these vicious laws.

Congress notes the increasing attacks by the coalition government on trade union rights and representation in education and across the public sector - withdrawal of trade union recognition, victimisation of elected reps, ending of check off systems, elimination of facility time and threats of minimum percentage votes in ballots. All of this has constrained unions' ability to protect members' interests and caused great difficulty for unions considering industrial action. These actions could threaten the very existence of trade unions.

With massive attacks on working class living standards, directly in real wage cuts or cuts in the social wage of public services, trade unions are in the front line in defending past gains.

Congress further condemns:

  1. the increasing frequency of judges overruling democratic trade union balloting procedures on spurious legal and moral grounds
  2. the intention of the Tories, if they win the general election, and of Ukip, to make these laws even more draconian and further limit the right to strike.

A capitalist system in crisis demands a reduction in the share of wealth that goes to the real wealth creators, the working class. For that to happen the basic defence organisations of our class have to be neutered.

Congress:

  1. resolves that UCU will campaign actively for the repeal of all anti-trade union laws
  2. calls upon the TUC to mount a campaign in defence of trade unions starting with the removal from the statute books of the anti-trade union laws from the Thatcher era.
  3. calls on the NEC of UCU to promote an educational campaign about the need for trade unions and report back to Congress 2016 on progress made.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

41A.1 Compositing amendment UCL, University of Brighton Falmer, Barnsley College

Add at end:

d. resolves that UCU will offer full support and solidarity to all workers in struggle, including those whose action is deemed 'unlawful' under this draconian and archaic legislation.

CARRIED

Amendment to 41A.1 University of Bradford

Insert 'practical' before 'solidarity'

CARRIED

41A.2 University of Bradford

At end add point e:

e. Congress recognises the defence of trade unions and their members will not be won by trade union action alone. Congress therefore calls on the NEC to include in its campaign the need to put an end to the chaos of capitalism and replace it with a socially owned, democratically organised society where the wealth created benefits the 99% and not the top 1%. This builds on UCU policy for public ownership of banking and finance.

CARRIED

SUBSTANTIVE MOTION

Congress reiterates its total opposition to the anti-union laws introduced by Tory governments in the 1980s and '90s. Congress deplores and condemns the failure of three Labour governments to repeal these vicious laws.

Congress notes the increasing attacks by the coalition government on trade union rights and representation in education and across the public sector - withdrawal of trade union recognition, victimisation of elected reps, ending of check off systems, elimination of facility time and threats of minimum percentage votes in ballots. All of this has constrained unions' ability to protect members' interests and caused great difficulty for unions considering industrial action. These actions could threaten the very existence of trade unions.

With massive attacks on working class living standards, directly in real wage cuts or cuts in the social wage of public services, trade unions are in the front line in defending past gains.

Congress further condemns:

  1. the increasing frequency of judges overruling democratic trade union balloting procedures on spurious legal and moral grounds
  2. the intention of the Tories, if they win the general election, and of Ukip, to make these laws even more draconian and further limit the right to strike.

A capitalist system in crisis demands a reduction in the share of wealth that goes to the real wealth creators, the working class. For that to happen the basic defence organisations of our class have to be neutered.

Congress:

  1. resolves that UCU will campaign actively for the repeal of all anti-trade union laws
  2. calls upon the TUC to mount a campaign in defence of trade unions starting with the removal from the statute books of the anti-trade union laws from the Thatcher era.
  3. calls on the NEC of UCU to promote an educational campaign about the need for trade unions and report back to Congress 2016 on progress made
  4. resolves that UCU will offer full support and practical solidarity to all workers in struggle, including those whose action is deemed 'unlawful' under this draconian and archaic legislation
  5. Congress recognises the defence of trade unions and their members will not be won by trade union action alone. Congress therefore calls on the NEC to include in its campaign the need to put an end to the chaos of capitalism and replace it with a socially owned, democratically organised society where the wealth created benefits the 99% and not the top 1%. This builds on UCU policy for public ownership of banking and finance.

L3  Oppose anti-trade union laws - National Executive Committee

Congress condemns the proposed conservative party restrictive anti-trade union laws which aim to make it almost impossible to take industrial action. This further aggressive attack on our rights and will make it even more difficult for unions to organise and take action.

Congress deplores the fact that their recent election victory puts them in a position to go ahead with introducing this legislation.

Congress instructs NEC to:

  1. campaign with other organisations against the introduction of this legislation
  2. produce material on campaigning and lobbying for branches
  3. call for the TUC to organise a mass demonstration and march on parliament against the introduction of this legislation and for the repeal of existing anti-trade union laws.
  4. build solidarity with other trade unions, the TUC, STUC, ICTU and WTUC to build for action up to and including a call for a general strike if this restrictive legislation is introduced.

    CARRIED

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, paragraph 4.2

42  (EP) Composite: TTIP - University of Glasgow, UCU Scotland

UCU Congress reiterates our concern over the ongoing negotiations between the EU and the US to agree a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). While there may be some economic benefits in reducing trade tariffs and reviewing regulation for certain industrial sectors, congress believes that the primary purpose of TTIP is to extend corporate investor rights. The current negotiations also lack transparency and proper democratic oversight.

Congress remains unconvinced by official claims of job creation arising out of TTIP, and considers that the dangers to public services including education, workers' rights and environmental standards outweigh any potential benefits.

Congress instructs the NEC to continue to highlight the dangers presented by TTIP, provide campaign materials to branches and to work with other trade unions and campaign bodies in defence of education, public services, worker rights and environmental protections.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

42A.1 National Executive Committee

Add 'and against acceptance of TTIP' at the end of the motion.

Add additional paragraphs at end of motion:

Congress further instructs NEC to:

  1. call for all MPs to declare any interests and to abstain from voting on any part of TTIP in which they have a vested interest
  2. call on TUC to organise a mass demonstration against TTIP
  3. use a wide range of campaigning strategies, including pressure on politicians, public statements, media and social media, meetings, events and demonstrations against all aspects of TTIP.'

    CARRIED

International solidarity, paragraph 4.3

43  UCU and BDS campaign - University of Brighton Grand Parade

Congress notes:

  1. the achievements of the global BDS campaign, particularly in North America
  2. the overwhelming adoption by Congress (2009 and 2010), after four years' careful reflection, of a general pro-boycott policy directed at Israeli products and institutions, including academic institutions
  3. Congress decision (2009) that all colleagues be urged, in the light of UCU policy, to consider whether cooperation with Israeli institutions is morally or politically defensible
  4. that unions have no mechanisms to impose a boycott, and implementation is only encouragement of individuals to reflect, hence legal anti-implementation cautions are irrelevant
  5. advice to some members from UCU, and some public information about UCU's position, have been misleading or inconsistent with policy.

Congress reaffirms its pro-BDS policy.

Congress resolves:

  1. all members will be contacted individually, in a dedicated e-mail, reminding them of policy on Israel, and with a link to the PACBI guidelines
  2. any misrepresentations of UCU's policy will be corrected publicly.

    DECLARED VOID AND OF NO EFFECT


44  Migrant workers in Qatar - National Executive Committee

Congress notes:

  1. migrant workers in Qatar are often forced to live in appalling conditions and operate under the kafala system, a type of bonded labour where they cannot leave Qatar or change jobs without their employer's permission
  2. the ITUC predicts at least 4000 migrant workers will die in preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Congress supports the TUC's Playfair Qatar campaign http://playfairqatar.org.uk/ and calls on the Qatari authorities to abolish the kafala system completely, ensure freedom of association, raise occupational health and safety standards up to international levels and provide decent living conditions.

Eight international universities including UCL have branch campuses in Qatar's Education City. Congress is very concerned about ITUC reports of the abuse of migrant workers' rights at Education City.

Congress calls on these universities to press:

  1. for an independent review of all staff working at their branch campuses
  2. the Qatari authorities to abolish the kafala system.

    CARRIED


45  British complicity in repression in Bahrain - London Retired Members' Branch

Congress notes the:

  1. intention to establish a permanent British military base in Bahrain
  2. brutal repression of the Bahraini uprising by the Al Khalifa monarchy
  3. use of systematic torture, fraudulent elections, victimisation of trade unionists, academics, and human rights activists, and religious discrimination
  4. use of troops from Saudi Arabia and UAE, and non-Bahraini mercenaries, to repress the population.

Congress condemns the British government's support for the monarchy.

Congress instructs NEC to:

  1. support campaigns against the base and against arming or training security forces of repressive regimes within the region
  2. work with EI and TUC for unbanning Bahrain Teachers Association, and for the release of Mahdi Abu Deeb
  3. work with MENA Solidarity to produce a public report on human rights in Bahrain, making recommendations to the NEC for future solidarity action, including an international trade union led inquiry into British support for the regime.

    CARRIED


46  Support for Steven Salaita (academic freedom) - London Metropolitan University North

Congress notes the University of Illinois' revocation (in 2014) of the decision to appoint the Muslim-American scholar Steven Salaita just three weeks before his scheduled classes were due to begin.

Prof. Salaita, whose parents are Palestinians, had been a vociferous critic of Israel's assault on Gaza in the summer of 2014. University officials justified his firing on the basis that his many tweets on the subject were considered 'uncivil'. A freedom of information request revealed that the university had come under pressure from many, predominantly pro-Israel, alumni and donors.

Congress:

  1. condemns the firing of Professor Salaita as a blatant violation of his academic freedom
  2. calls on the general secretary to issue a statement in support of Professor Salaita on behalf of UCU
  3. authorises a payment of $100 to be made to support Professor Salaita's legal challenge against the University of Illinois.

    CARRIED


47  Solidarity with the people of Greece - National Executive Committee

Congress welcomes the fact that the people of Greece have delivered a major blow to disastrous austerity policies by voting to determine a new path for the Greek economy. This new path includes efforts to renegotiate and relieve crippling debt repayments and plans to clamp down on tax evasion by the wealthy.

Congress recognises that the Greek people face immense challenges, and that they and their trade unions will need our solidarity. Congress, therefore, resolves to:

  1. defend the right of Greece to end austerity
  2. call on MPs and MEPs to support debt reform in Europe
  3. strengthen our links with Greek education unions
  4. affiliate to the Greece Solidarity Campaign (cost £100).

    CARRIED


48  Violent attack on Garissa University College in Kenya - National Executive Committee

Congress:

  1. condemns the violent attack on Garissa University College in Kenya on 2 April 2015 which resulted in the deaths of 148 people.
  2. expresses grave concerns about the growing violence facing students and teachers globally, including the suspected massacre of 43 student teachers in Mexico in September 2014 and the abduction of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls by Boko Haram in April 2014.
  3. recognises that education institutions have become targets of deliberate attacks for political, military, ideological, sectarian, ethnic, or religious reasons.
  4. reaffirms our belief in the importance of education as a human right, the centrality of free expression and debate on campus and the positive role that education can play in conflict resolution.
  5. calls on governments to ensure that schools, colleges and universities are safe places to study and work and to sign up to draft international guidelines for protecting education institutions from military use during armed conflict.

    CARRIED


L4  Loss of migrants' lives in the Mediterranean - National Executive Committee

Congress notes:

  1. the horrific loss of life among migrants and refugees crossing the Mediterranean fleeing war, poverty and counter-revolution
  2. in April 1300 people drowned in a few days, and 3,500-plus drowned in 2014
  3. numbers are escalating.

Congress believes:

  1. thousands more will die this year without humanitarian action by European governments
  2. some blame the traffickers or migrants themselves but the real culprits are Western politicians who promote Fortress Europe and have slashed funding for rescue missions
  3. these policies open the way for far-right and racist parties
  4. political choices by mainstream politicians for austerity, cuts and imperialist wars cause refugee crises, giving millions few options but to flee their countries.

Congress resolves the NEC will actively campaign for the new UK government to:

  1. provide support and sanctuary to refugees, migrants and asylum seekers
  2. restore funding and resources for rescue operations in the Mediterranean.

    CARRIED

Last updated: 24 May 2015