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Recruitment, organising and campaigning motions

UCU Congress 2021: online, Saturday 29 May 2021

Motions have been allocated to a section of the NEC's report to Congress (UCU1080). Paragraph headings refer to paragraphs within this report. (EP = existing policy.)

Section 6: Recruitment, organising and campaigning committee


19  Campaigns and organising - National executive committee

Congress notes the progress made by ROCC in implementing the policies set by Congress, notably

  1. support for branches, including with ballots and disputes
  2. strengthening recruitment and membership in all our sectors
  3. developing training and education.

It further notes the impact of the pandemic on this work.

It supports continued focus on these areas working

  1. to engage and involve our diverse groups of members, refreshing our approach to training and communication
  2. to support branch recruitment, campaigning and organisation
  3. to strengthen our inclusive, intersectional, and enabling approach to these activities
  4. to use our response to Covid-19 to build long term improvements into our work
  5. to progress ROCC related Congress resolutions.

Carried

20  Working from home culture and cost - Academic related, professional staff committee

Congress notes many staff are now working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic. We recognise the costs attached to providing safe, well lit, heated workspaces and the increase in utilities bills for many.

Congress further notes:

  1. proposals to introduce hybrid working from home models indefinitely in many institutions
  2. without local agreements in place staff working from home are at risk of new modes of 'distanced micromanagement', including:
    • unrealistic management expectations and dangerous workloads
    • further erosion or eradication of work / home life balance
    • detriment from inadequate equipment provision

Congress resolves that UCU should: 

  1. develop and publicise local bargaining guidance on WFH culture
  2. support all branches to negotiate, using this guidance, as a priority
  3. to provide guidance and support to all branches to negotiate WFH utilities payments
  4. further develop bargaining and campaigning guidance to ensure all staff, including ARPS, are protected from detriment when critiquing their employer.

Carried as amended

20A.1 University of Brighton Grand Parade, and University of Brighton, Mouslecoomb, University of Brighton, Falmer

Under 'Congress further notes' a new point 3:

  1. for some staff homeworking may be inappropriate because of the nature of their work or their housing, personal circumstances or preference.

Under 'Congress resolves' to insert a new point c and renumber subsequently

  1. ensure that WFH agreements also preserve the right to work on employer premises with appropriate office accommodation.

Add to existing point c (new point d)

  1. and provision of necessary equipment and furniture.

Carried

Substantive motion

Congress notes many staff are now working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic. We recognise the costs attached to providing safe, well lit, heated workspaces and the increase in utilities bills for many.

Congress further notes:

  1. proposals to introduce hybrid working from home models indefinitely in many institutions
  2. without local agreements in place staff working from home are at risk of new modes of 'distanced micromanagement', including:
    • unrealistic management expectations and dangerous workloads
    • further erosion or eradication of work / home life balance
    • detriment from inadequate equipment provision
  3. for some staff homeworking may be inappropriate because of the nature of their work or their housing, personal circumstances or preference.

Congress resolves that UCU should: 

  1. develop and publicise local bargaining guidance on WFH culture
  2. support all branches to negotiate, using this guidance, as a priority
  3. ensure that WFH agreements also preserve the right to work on employer premises with appropriate office accommodation
  4. to provide guidance and support to all branches to negotiate WFH utilities payments and provision of necessary equipment and furniture
  5. further develop bargaining and campaigning guidance to ensure all staff, including ARPS, are protected from detriment when critiquing their employer.

21  Anti-casualisation - University of Liverpool

Congress notes the:

  1. growing epidemic of casualisation in universities and colleges
  2. disposal of thousands of precarious members' jobs last summer
  3. likelihood that members on insecure contracts will face more cuts this summer
  4. attack on 'permanent' posts by many institutions during the pandemic.

Congress believes casualisation and outsourcing:

  1. affects the majority of researchers and a growing portion of teaching, academic support and professional services staff
  2. extends beyond cover for temporary vacancies
  3. hinders the ability of workers to organise effectively in the union.

Congress resolves to:

  1. launch a UK-wide campaign against yearly redundancies for indefinite contracts to be the general form of employment in the sectors
  2. avoid risk sharing strategies that diminish the ability of workers to organise
  3. organise twice yearly training event by and for activists
  4. integrate this campaign into pay disputes.

Carried as amended

21A.1 Anti-casualisation committee

Delete:

  1. launch a UK-wide campaign against yearly redundancies for indefinite contracts to be the general form of employment in the sectors

Replace with:

  1. re-launch our campaign against yearly redundancies and raise the profile of our demand for 24 month minimum contracts across the post-16 education sector, as a step towards making permanent employment the norm for everyone.

Carried

Substantive motion

Congress notes the:

  1. growing epidemic of casualisation in universities and colleges
  2. disposal of thousands of precarious members' jobs last summer
  3. likelihood that members on insecure contracts will face more cuts this summer
  4. attack on 'permanent' posts by many institutions during the pandemic.

Congress believes casualisation and outsourcing:

  1. affects the majority of researchers and a growing portion of teaching, academic support and professional services staff
  2. extends beyond cover for temporary vacancies
  3. hinders the ability of workers to organise effectively in the union.

Congress resolves to:

  1. re-launch our campaign against yearly redundancies and raise the profile of our demand for 24 month minimum contracts across the post-16 education sector, as a step towards making permanent employment the norm for everyone
  2. avoid risk sharing strategies that diminish the ability of workers to organise
  3. organise twice yearly training event by and for activists
  4. integrate this campaign into pay disputes.

22  Keep workplaces Covid safe and accessible - Disabled members standing committee

Congress notes:

  1. there are many people with worries about side effects who are hesitant and others, including disabled people, who cannot be vaccinated.
  2. Covid vaccines are important and welcome, but do not guarantee everyone's safety
  3. the Covid crisis has shown that remote work is effective and should be offered as a reasonable adjustment for all disabled workers and carers who need it.

Congress believes it remains necessary to ensure that every workplace has full H&S policies and anti Covid transfer measures in place, not least because long Covid often accompanies infection, including the right to work remotely for all of those who need to by reason of their own impairment or that of family members.

Congress resolves to oppose any attempts to dismiss people who cannot take a vaccine and to fight for the right for those who cannot take it, for any reason, to work remotely.

Carried

23  Composite: Climate change, COP26, zero carbon economy and job creation - University of Hull, London retired members, National executive committee, Croydon College, University of Manchester

Congress notes the importance of the passing of resolutions 39 and 40 and the urgent need to build on this https://www.ucu.org.uk/article/11075/Congress-motions-2020#39

The COP26 talks in Glasgow in November 2021 come at a crucial time. According to a recent report by the Environment Agency, climate change is hitting the 'worst case scenario'. This means hotter temperatures, more extreme weather conditions, drought, famine, ecosystem destruction, biodiversity loss and much more. And as always it will be communities in the Global South who feel the worst impacts.

While we welcome any action to deal with the climate crisis, we need to beware false solutions that focus on the market or billionaires to rescue us. That is why the mobilisations for the COP26 - in Glasgow and in local towns and cities - are crucial. And it is important that trade unions are at the heart of these mobilisations, calling for climate justice, a just transformation for workers and one million climate jobs.

We support these mobilisations and the work done by the COP26 coalition.

Congress believes:

  1. the IPCC 2018 Special Report has warned of the dire consequences of exceeding 1.5ºc global average warming
  2. to avoid this global carbon emissions must be halved by 2030
  3. we need to mobilise for a just transition which protects and improves workers' livelihoods, creates a more inclusive society and stops greenhouse gas emissions
  4. we face a global and UK crisis of unemployment; tackling the Covid-19 pandemic represents an ideal opportunity to invest in climate jobs
  5. the UK government continues to back false solutions like carbon markets and block the transformational changes which are necessary.

Congress recognises that the move to a zero-carbon economy has huge implications for the jobs of UCU members. Job creation and the measures needed to meet climate targets mean this should be a central focus for UCU strategy.

Congress calls on NEC to:

  1. support the COP26 coalition and encourage branches to join it
  2. join and support the national mobilisations and protests that take place leading up to and during the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November 2021 by supporting branches taking climate solidarity action with students, unions, and campaign organisations
  3. review UCU activity and infrastructure and draw up a plan for the elimination of greenhouse gas emissions with a report on progress to the 2022 Congress
  4. review all UCU training programmes and branch guidance to ensure that the appointment of green reps and Green New Deal (GND) bargaining is referenced
  5. provide guidance to branches on engagement with local and regional authorities around green jobs and skills
  6. establish a Climate Action Network with a formal role in UCU structure
  7. support the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill Alliance.

Carried

24  Composite: A union for all - press coverage and representation of all members - Yorkshire and Humberside regional committee, Academic related, professional staff committee

Congress recognises the wide, diverse membership of UCU and that all members from all sectors and staff groups deserve equal representation and visibility. Congress notes UCU's respect for the work and recognition agreements of unions active in our sector.

Congress further notes that:

  1. during the pandemic, UCU has achieved more press coverage for pre-92 HE than other sectors (post-92/FE/adult/prison education) over issues that affect all of education. This media coverage focus on lecturers erases other membership groups in HE (including ARPS), FE, prison ed and ACE
  2. reps in some sectors have, at times, felt that they do not have the backing of the union at national level.

This is symptomatic of a view of UCU as a union for pre-92 universities only. Other sectors are a minority in UCU but we must be a united union.

Issues caused by government policy require a national position and action.

We call on UCU to:

  1. counter the media narrative, ensuring all press releases are fully inclusive and include all sectors
  2. make regular public statements on government policy for all sectors
  3. check all national all-member communications are written in a way which includes all sectors.
  4. change standard practice on communications and on the website to reflect the diversity of the membership ensuring that academics are not always at the forefront of literature or webpages
  5. focus on all sectors in national policy and action
  6. develop and implement national strategies to enhance the profile of all UCU sectors and staff, and the union's work in all sectors, including a 'not just a lecturers' union' campaign
  7. campaign for the principle of, and funding for, lifelong learning in this post-pandemic world.

Carried

25  Building a trade union movement against hostile environment - Migrant members standing committee

Congress notes:

  1. the hostile environment policy worsened conditions for migrants after the passage of the Immigration Act 2014
  2. that this policy has permeated society to the detriment of people's lives
  3. migrants, racialised minorities and the working class suffer the brunt of this policy
  4. that the Conservative Party have announced plans to escalate the hostile environment.

Congress believes:

  1. that trade unions have a history of fighting for justice
  2. that UCU has led in the fight against the hostile environment among UK trade unions.

Congress resolves:

  1. to work with other trade unions in order to build a movement in the UK against the hostile environment
  2. to campaign for inter-union solidarity in order to strengthen our position in fighting unjust and racist immigration policies
  3. to seek to establish a joint-TU conference which addresses the concerns around the hostile environment and the ways in which a joint, unified front can combat this.

Carried

26  Understanding casualisation by learning technology - Anti-casualisation committee

Congress notes: 

  1. rapid growth of learning technology in post-16 education. 
  2. proliferation of casualised gig economy jobs, highly surveilled employment relationships often mediated by apps 
  3. incursion of international learning technology organisations bringing exploitative employment models from 'big tech'
  4. increased reuse of recorded or pre-written materials rather than interactive teaching and learning .

Congress resolves: 

  1. UCU will commission research into learning technology and 'tech platforms' across all sectors we represent to investigate: 
  • key threats of increased casualisation 
  • surveillance elements affecting employees' autonomy, wellbeing and privacy rights 
  • contextual particularities of HE, FE, ACE, prison education 
  • successful campaigns by trade unions experienced in performing rights (e.g. BECTU/Prospect, the NUJ) to defend members' rights
  1. the brief for this commissioned research will be formulated in close partnership with the Anti-Casualisation Committee 
  2. findings of this research will inform a national campaign for fighting casualisation and deterioration of working conditions arising from new learning technology.

Carried

27  Reverse the rise in the state pension age - West Midlands retired members

Congress notes that:

  1. State Pension Age (SPA) reached 66 last autumn, it will now stand still for a few years but is due to rise to 67 between 2026 and 2028 and, according to present legislation, to 68 between 2044 and 2046; and
  2. the Pension Act 2014 requires a five-yearly review of SPA, the first such review in 2017 recommended bringing forward the rise to 68 to 2037-39 and the government accepted this recommendation but, lacking a parliamentary majority, promised a further review before legislating.

Congress instructs the National Executive Committee to:

  1. campaign urgently to stop any more SPA rises
  2. work with other trades unions towards coordinated submissions to the SPA review due to report in 2022 linked to a campaign to reduce SPA and to provide flexible early access to the State Pension in appropriate circumstances.

Carried

28  Solidarity with NHS and other public sector workers - Kirklees College (EP)

Congress notes:

  1. the erosion of pay in the public sector, including all sectors of education, since 2010
  2. further austerity measures likely to pay for the Coronavirus crisis will hit public sector workers in the form of pay freezes and below-inflation pay rises.

After the insulting 1% offer made to NHS staff, all workers must say no to the very key workers who risked their lives during the pandemic being asked to pay the price of the government's botched response. Together we are stronger and infinitely more disruptive!

Congress calls on UCU to:

  1. make a public statement of solidarity with NHS workers
  2. work with other public service unions to coordinate meaningful action on pay.

Carried

29  The recalcitrant approach of employers on improvements to pay - Southern regional committee

Congress notes:

  1. the recalcitrant approach of employers on improvements to pay
  2. attacks by employers on terms and conditions worsening the effects on casualised members
  3. attacks on pensions and the consequent detrimental effects in the longer terms on equalities
  4. the context of a national pandemic; and
  5. the need for a national strategy to protect jobs, terms, conditions and pensions.

Congress calls on UCU:

  1. to press for employers to agree a national moratorium on compulsory redundancies for 1 year; and
  2. demands for a 2-year minimum contract for casualised staff.

Carried

30  Environmental sustainability as an anti-casualisation issue - Anti-casualisation committee 

Congress believes:  

  1. climate change, biodiversity- loss, and unsustainable development are serious threats to human wellbeing
  2. action on sustainability should be part of, rather than in tension with, supporting casualised members
  3. the contractual status of casualised workers often excludes them from sustainability measures requiring staff status or minimum employment length
  4. high profile campaigns on labour- environmental issues can increase the diversity of UCU's membership and activism 

Congress resolves:  

  1. UCU will campaign for a 'Green New Deal' which prioritises measures that reduce casualisation, including special employment-interest specific 'asks' designed to motivate recruitment and organizing in highly casualized and low membership- density areas
  2. guidance to branches on sustainability should incorporate anti-casualisation, including: 
  • measures supporting 'sustainable behaviour' must be accessible to casualised employees
  • employers must reduce environmental impacts and absorb associated costs, rather than transfer these to employees, particularly casualised employees. 

Carried

31  Justice for Osime Brown - West Midlands regional committee

Congress notes:

  1. that Osime Brown is a young boy with autism and learning disabilities facing deportation to Jamaica, a place he left aged 4 where he has no support network
  2. that Osime has served a prison sentence under the disputed joint enterprise policy following the theft of a mobile phone
  3. that Osime faces deportation due to the hostile environment, a policy which we as a union oppose.

Congress believes:

  1. that the penal deportation of Osime would put him in grave danger & is an abuse of human rights
  2. that Osime belongs at home in Dudley with his mother.

Congress resolves:

  1. to call on branches to support the campaign against his deportation through inviting speakers, donating to his campaign, writing to the Home Secretary, and supporting social media campaigning
  2. to hold an annual UCU 'end the hostile environment' campaign week while this policy remains.

Carried

32  Housing safety for staff and students - The Trafford College Group

Grenfell demonstrated that privatisation has decimated safety in the communities our staff and students live in and is having a devastating effect on the lives and educational opportunities. Grenfell has opened up a Pandora's Box of historical building defects, ranging from cladding to cavity barrier installation, in flats of 11m and above.

The government has made available £5bn to cover cladding issues alone but this is a drop in the ocean of the money required to fix historical defects in flats, not built to regulation at the time of construction but sold as safe.

Congress resolves:

  1. to support the MacPartland-Smith amendment (or similar) that prevents freeholders from passing on fire safety remedial costs and honour the commitment to act on the recommendations from phase one of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry
  2. to encourage members to lobby MPs to support this
  3. to support campaigns for housing security for all.

Carried

Last updated: 15 June 2021