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Business of the strategy and finance committee (private session)

18 May 2023

UCU Congress 2023: Saturday 27 May 2023, 14:15-16:30

Motions have been allocated to a section of the NEC's report to Congress (UCU2068). Paragraph headings refer to paragraphs within this report. CBC has added some new paragraph headings to facilitate the ordering of motions.

Section 3: Business of the strategy and finance committee to be taken in private session

(EP) advisory marking denoting UCU existing policy

Finance and property

21  Appointment of auditors - National executive committee

Congress approves the appointment of Knox Cropper as the union's auditors for the year ending 31 August 2023.


22  Financial statements - National executive committee

Congress receives the union's audited financial statements for the 12-month period ending 31 August 2022 as set out in UCU/2074.


23  Budget 2023-24 - National executive committee

Congress endorses the budget for September 2023 - August 2024 as set out in UCU/2075.


24  Subscription rates - National executive committee

Congress accepts the Treasurer's report on progress with the review of subscription rates and endorses the changes to subscription rates from 1 September 2023 set out in UCU/2076.


25  Remove the cap on fighting fund payments - Southern regional committee

Congress notes:

  1. that the marking and assessment boycott (MAB) on HE Four Fights dispute started on 20 April and was announced to members on 5 April.
  2. and condemns the deductions proposed by various institutions which are totally out of proportion to the proportion of members' work involved in marking. This includes deductions up to 100% for an indefinite period.

Congress agrees:

  1. to remove the cap on Fighting Fund payments and to make the Fighting Fund available for all members experiencing deductions for involvement in MAB.

Congress instructs:

  1. NEC to immediately implement this change to the Fighting Fund so members can receive the financial support they need to continue the action to win.


26  Fighting fund for casualised members - University of Liverpool

Congress notes:

  1. that our casualised members (such as fixed term, part time, and hourly paid) are our most precarious colleagues
  2. that these colleagues are detrimentally financially impacted by taking part in industrial action and are more likely to be experiencing personal economic insecurity and hardship
  3. that to win any dispute we must do our utmost to enable them to participate in industrial action.

Congress resolves:

  1. that our lower paid casualised members should have access to the central Fighting Fund from day 1 of industrial action
  2. that the fighting fund application process is made more accessible to casualised members (e.g., reflecting inability to produce payslips with 'deductions' on for hourly paid members)
  3. that the union needs to review all such circumstances, with a view to ensuring equity of union support.


27  Reviewing and resourcing UCU'S organising - University of Cambridge

Congress notes that:

  1. escalations by UCU since 2018 have increased members' participation, promoted radical demands, and created local campaigns
  2. recommendation 3 in the 2018 report of the Commission on Effective Industrial Action prompted UCU to commit 'resources and building the organisational capacity of the union'
  3. casualised staff and PGRs are also mobilised, yet constantly in precarity
  4. member-led unions with successful industrial actions are geared towards on-the-ground organising, like International Workers of Great Britain;

Congress believes that:

  1. it is necessary for UCU to invest more in organising to maximise participation
  2. casualised staff and PGRs should be prioritised in resource allocation.

Congress instructs the NEC to:

  1. conduct a consultation with branches to identify needs, gaps, and opportunities in UCU organising support
  2. draft a strategy (to share with members) to address resource gaps identified in the consultation
  3. commit more resources to fill in the gaps identified in the consultation.


27A.1  Composite: National executive committee, Yorkshire and Humberside retired members' branch

Under Congress notes add point 5:

'Trade union facility time is under increasing pressure from employers and many union representatives perform union work without adequate facility time. Some UCU members have inflexible work commitments and some reps need their work covered or duty reductions to make facility time meaningful.'

Under Congress believes that, add point c:

'UCU must not abandon but step up the fight for adequate facility time with cover'.

Under Congress instructs the NEC to, add iv:

'Provide resources for and call on the GS to defend and improve existing facility time agreements and extend facility time with cover and duty reductions to union roles and members currently without facility time.'


Motions 28 and 29: The union has received legal advice that the debate of these motions is not appropriate and poses a legal risk to UCU as an employer. Congress debate cannot provide, and may prejudice, due process in respect of any allegation of misconduct, which all employees, including the general secretary, are entitled to have dealt with in accordance with their contractual arrangements.

CBC's decision to order these motions into the agenda was not unanimous.

28  Composite: Censure of UCU general secretary - Bournemouth University, Cardiff University

Congress notes:

  1. delays in balloting and then notifying employers of industrial action in the 2022-23 dispute repeated failings of UCU the previous year.
  2. the decision by the General Secretary to agree with UCEA to pause the industrial action ending intensive dispute resolution talks without consultation with negotiators or the HEC, excluding elected lay negotiators in the ACAS talks
  3. the failure to call the BDM agreed by the 12/11/2022 HEC
  4. the paused negotiations without a significant offer on the Four Fights.

Congress believes:

  1. the pause was a tactical mistake which could lose the dispute
  2. UCU general secretary's public statements opposing HEC decisions weakened members belief in the union leadership's commitment and undermined negotiators' role, again repeating the lack of democratic responsibility in the previous year
  3. members' democratic control must be at the heart of UCU's industrial strategy
  4. members decisions at UCU Congress, sector conferences and HEC must not be undermined if members are to have confidence in the leadership of our union
  5. delays in balloting and calling industrial action all undermined our industrial action's effectiveness.

Congress resolves to:

  1. reaffirm the sovereignty of Congress, sector conference and NEC/HEC decisions.
  2. to censure the general secretary for her actions in excluding elected lay negotiators, pausing the strike action, undermining UCU's democracy and undermining our disputes.
  3. require, and seek assurance, that the GS abide by democratic decision making and processes in UCU.


29  Composite: No confidence in the general secretary - University of Sunderland, Ulster University, Kingston University, University of Oxford, Royal College of Art, Southern regional committee

Congress notes that

  1. UCEA's 'offer' made no improvement on headline pay, offering only talks on other matters till February 2024
  2. the general secretary's indicative members' eballot prior to an emergency BDM was without opportunities for prior branch discussions
  3. it is the constitutional role of the elected members of the HE committee, not the GS, to determine when offers be put to members
  4. the marginalisation of UCU's elected national negotiators in the process
  5. Unison rejected the offer and balloted for further industrial action.

Congress believes that

  1. acceptance of this offer constitutes a serious defeat for UCU
  2. the indicative e-ballot was designed to bounce the BDM, and the BDM to bounce the HEC
  3. plebiscitary ballots are false consultations, incompatible with UCU's democratic structure, against union policy, and tools of populist manipulation.

Congress resolves that it has no confidence in the general secretary.


29A.1  University of the West of Scotland

Add notes:

  1. the behaviour of NEC towards the general secretary, voting to stop her from reporting to them; forcing her to report directly to members
  2. Congress Business Committee's ignoring of legal advice around ordering this motion onto the agenda, which constitutes a dereliction of duty towards UCU's staff.

Amend final sentence:

Congress resolves that it has no confidence in the general secretary, the NEC or Congress Business Committee.


Democratic structures

Report of the commission to review rule 13

Motions 30 and 31 are rule changes requiring a two-thirds majority.

30  Amendment to rule 13: description of disciplinary offences - National executive committee

Congress approves recommendation 1 of the report of the commission to review rule 13, Amendment to rule 13: description of disciplinary offences:

Rule 13.1, penultimate clause, delete 'to be in breach of the Rules or is deemed to be a matter of significant detriment to the interest of the Union.'

Replace with 'to constitute a disciplinary offence'.

Add new paragraph:

A member of the Union commits a disciplinary offence if that member: (a) acts contrary to the Rules of the Union; (b) is knowingly involved in any fraud on the Union or misappropriation of Union funds or property; (c) misuses protected data contrary to the Data Protection Act Licence of the Union; (d) frustrates any decision or penalty of the Conduct of Members Committee; or (e) in any other way engages in conduct which brings injury or discredit to the Union.

The amended rule will read:

The National executive committee shall (by the same procedure as it establishes its own Standing Orders) establish a procedure to censure; or bar a member from holding any office for a specified period not exceeding three years; or suspend from membership for a period not exceeding one year or expel a member from membership, if it finds their conduct to constitute a disciplinary offence.

A member of the Union commits a disciplinary offence if that member: (a) acts contrary to the Rules of the Union; (b) is knowingly involved in any fraud on the Union or misappropriation of Union funds or property; (c) misuses protected data contrary to the Data Protection Act Licence of the Union; (d) frustrates any decision or penalty of the Conduct of Members Committee; or (e) in any other way engages in conduct which brings injury or discredit to the Union.


Purpose: To define more clearly the matters that constitute a disciplinary offence to which the rule 13 procedure (regulation of the conduct of members) may be applied.

31  Amendment to rule 13: An elected conduct of members committee (CMC) - National executive committee

Congress approves recommendation 2 of the report of the commission to review rule 13, Amendment to rule 13: An elected conduct of members committee (CMC):

Rule 13.1, add new paragraph 13.1.1 and 13.1.2

13.1.1 It will establish a Conduct of Members Committee (CMC) for the purpose of managing the above. This shall comprise 15 members elected by and from the NEC, and 15 members elected by Congress. The NEC makes it own provisions for how to elect CMC members, taking into consideration the need for the CMC to represent the membership of UCU. The CMC has the option to co-opt additional members as necessary (for example Trustees or former members of the NEC) where such individuals are deemed to have relevant expertise.

13.1.2 Rule 13.1.1 shall take effect on such a date as determined by the NEC when approving an amended process under rule 13 which includes the establishment and operation of the CMC. Those members who are at that time members of the Appeals Panel elected by Congress with become the Congress elected members of the CMC until the next meeting of Congress, when elections for all Congress elected members of the CMC will take place. This clause (13.1.2) shall be deleted at the close of Congress 2024.


Purpose: To place into rule an elected Conduct of Members Committee (CMC) to hear complaints about member conduct under rule 13, and to set out its composition.

Under the revised procedure, the CMC will form a pool of members from which investigating officers, hearing panels, and appeal panels, are drawn, as described in paragraph 7.4 of the commission's report. The CMC will election a chair and vice chair.

31A.1  National executive committee

Delete final sentence of proposed rule 13.1.1.

To delete the sentence beginning 'The CMC has the option to co-opt additional members as necessary....' and ending 'deemed to have relevant expertise'.


Purpose: To correct an error in the rule change included in the report of the commission to review rule 13 that was not identified until recently.

31A.2  Open University

Replace 13.1.1 with:

13.1.1 It will establish a Conduct of Members Committee (CMC) for the purpose of managing the above. Thirty CMC members elected by Congress will include women, LGBT, Black, disabled, casualised, and migrant representatives. In gender-based violence and bullying complaints, panels will comprise 1 CMC member, and 2 members independent of UCU who are qualified in survivor-centred complaint investigation and resolution. The CMC has the option to co-opt additional members with relevant expertise as necessary.


32  Report of commission to review Rule 13 - National executive committee

Congress adopts the report of the commission to review rule 13 as set out in UCU/2073 and approves recommendations 3-15 of that report.


33  Sexual and gender-based violence in UCU - procedural change - East Midlands regional committee

Congress notes the report of commission to review Rule 13 makes limited reference to sexual and gender-based violence.

Congress notes the 2021 Eradicating Sexual Violence report highlighted procedures frustrate and place further strain on victim/survivors who try to bring complaints.

Congress instructs NEC to bring forward changes to make Rule 13 work better in respect of handling complaints of sexual and gender-based violence and harassment.

As a minimum this should aim to include, through guidance or procedural change:

  1. support for complainants from outside their branch, where local conflicts or other local issues make branch support difficult
  2. waiving the 3-month time limit for bringing complaints
  3. allowing a complaint to continue even if the complainant leaves the union
  4. any variations needed to ensure that confidentially requirements do not have a detrimental effect on complainants
  5. any further applicable element from sector guidance by the 1752 Group and other experts in survivor-centred complaint processes.


34   Reporting back of NEC members to constituencies - University of Nottingham 

Congress instructs the NEC to formulate rule change motions to ensure the following: 

  1. NEC members canvass opinions from branches and regions in their constituencies prior to NEC and NEC subcommittee meetings
  2. NEC members produce a written report within two working weeks of NEC and NEC subcommittees to be circulated in the appropriate constituency
  3. appropriate mechanisms to be established by UCU to support circulation of reports from NEC members to constituencies. 


35  Include ARPS officer in UCU model local rules  - Academic related, professional services staff committee 

Congress notes: 

  1. an ARPS Officer role is currently not included in the suggested officer roles in the Branch Officer roles guidance on the UCU website. 
  2. while some branches have an ARPS officer, many do not. 

Congress believes that: 

  1. ARPS members can feel isolated and/or excluded from UCU, particularly in branches where committees positions are predominately filled by Academic members.
  2. oncreasing the number of ARPS Officers on Branch Committees would support ARPS members as members of UCU. 

Congress resolves to: 

  1. add ARPS Officer and a definition of the role to the list of Committee members that every branch should have in the UCU Model Local Rules to encourage branches to include this role. 

35A.1  Retired members' committee

In the final paragraph, second line, delete 'every branch should have'.


36  Membership of retired members branches - East Midlands retired members' branch 

Under Rule 3.1.2, "[p]ersons who have been (but are no longer eligible to remain) a member under Rule 3.1.1 and who become unemployed, or retire and no longer continue in qualifying employment..." are eligible for membership of the Union. At the moment, however, people who have left UCU when they retired have no means of making use of this rule if they wish to re-join. 

Congress therefore calls on the NEC to create a mechanism whereby persons whose membership lapsed when they retired or who left qualifying employment, can re-join the Union as retired members. 

Congress also calls on the NEC to promote more actively membership in the Retired Members Branches. 


37  Policy review - South West retired members' branch 

Congress believes that the COVID pandemic raises significant challenges for UCU in protecting the health of its members (and employees) while facilitating participation in union-organised meetings. Congress calls for a review of policy and practice towards UCU meetings at national and regional level which takes account, inter alia, of the following: 

  1. the need to ensure maximum involvement in democratic debate and decision-making
  2. the desire of some members to meet in-person
  3. the desire of other members to meet on-line, particularly for health reasons
  4. availability of technology that enables hybrid meetings, and the need for training in managing such meetings
  5. environmental issues arising from travel to meetings
  6. the need to provide safe air in meeting venues
  7. resourcing and cost considerations. 


38  Inclusive conferences - Disabled members standing committee 

This Congress believes that all UCU meetings and conferences should be as inclusive as possible. 

Congress notes

  1. with regret the decision of the NEC that this Congress should be an in-person conference only 
  2. that a similar decision was made about the Equalities Conference held last December although it was subsequently agreed to livestream the conference.

Congress further notes that: 

  1. the equalities committees such as the Disabled Members Standing Committee, were not consulted or engaged in any way in making this decision about Congress 
  2. the decision to make it an exclusively in-person congress has meant that a number of members have effectively been excluded from attending and participating in this Congress. 

Congress calls on the UCU and the NEC to uphold the UCU's commitment to inclusion by ensuring that all future conferences, congresses and other meetings are hybrid and not exclusively in-person. 


38A.1  Women members standing committee


  1. a hybrid conference makes it possible for more members to take part, which is good, inclusive of all minority groups, including disabled people and those with caring responsibilities.

39  Congress scheduling - Eastern and home counties regional committee

Congress notes: 

  1. currently UCU Congress and sector conferences are always held across the May half-term for FE including on bank holidays on some years 

Congress believes:

  1. the timing of Congress is difficult for working parents. The dates chosen are school holidays and often bank holidays. This can exclude anyone (primarily women) who have family commitments
  2. workload is at an all-time high in FE so taking leave in the allotted student holidays is of vital importance for members wellbeing and mental health
  3. employers reluctant to release members for Congress are the issue that should be confronted rather than disadvantage members with the current scheduling.

Congress resolves

  1. to schedule Congress 2024 so it does not disadvantage FE or any section of UCU members
  2. to move Congress /Sector Conferences to be weekday during term-time for members 
  3. to call on the GS to prioritise resources supporting delegates to obtain release. 


40  Supporting effective internal union communications by provision of digital tools - University of Birmingham

Congress notes effective internal communication within the union - both at branch level and regional/national level - is one of the most important factors for ensuring effective organising and democratic decision-making.

Congress resolves:

  1. to invest in UCU's communications infrastructure, to better support the business of the union and the engagement of all members in democratic decision-making
  2. to provide branches with the basic digital tools they need to conduct committee business, to free up their time from basic administration to allow more productive organising and campaigning
  3. to provide a communications solution that allows cross-branch communications; that can facilitate regional, national and special interest group discussions in one secure and members-only space. Members need a single centralised digital space for; hosting video meetings and conferences; facilitating delimited and secure discussions; and enabling digital decision-making.


40A.1  Yorkshire and Humberside regional committee

Add at end of first paragraph:

Congress further notes that the lack of internal structures for discussion increases the likelihood of debates taking place on social media platforms.

Add under Congress resolves:

4. to re-establish the UCU activists' list as a discussion forum for UCU members, with provision for appropriate moderating arrangements.

41  UCU discussion fora - University of Sussex

Congress notes:

  1. amongst the UCU membership, there are significant differences in terms of preferred approaches to industrial action
  2. it is preferable for discussion of those differences to be private and to be informed in good time by relevant information about the legislative and operational constraints the UCU faces
  3. an accessible but private 'forum' for UCU members interested in such discussions is currently absent.

Congress resolves to recommend the organisation of annual 'Chatham House' workshops for UCU members by regional officers/offices.

These workshops should facilitate:

  1. information dissemination by UCU officials on the legal and operational constraints UCU faces
  2. an open-ended sharing of different views on preferred industrial action strategy by regional representatives (such as branch committee members and/or HEC members)
  3. motion-writing sessions for attendees so that the above information and viewpoint dissemination can be directed towards UCU policy on industrial action.


Last updated: 23 October 2023