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Business of the equality committee

18 May 2023

UCU Congress 2023: Monday 29 May 2023, 09:00-11:30

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 5: Business of the equality committee to be taken in open session

(EP) advisory marking denoting UCU existing policy

Engaging members on equality

50  UCU to move from Equality to Equity - Loughborough University 

Congress notes that Equality means an individual or group is given the same resources or opportunities, whereas Equity recognises that each person has different circumstances and allocates the resources and opportunities needed to reach fairer outcomes. 

Congress believes that not everyone has the same starting point and as a trade union and movement we should be striving for Equity rather than Equality. 

Congress resolves to move UCU towards the principles of Equity rather than Equality, to implement the title of Equity Officers instead of Equality Officers and to bring a motion to the TUC to ask the UK trade union movement to do the same. 


50A.1  LGBT+ members standing committee

Replace 'Equity' with 'Liberation' in the title.

Add after 'Congress notes' - 'the importance of language in equality work; e.g.:'

In paragraph 1 delete the words 'allocates the' and replace with 'that'

After 'opportunities in paragraph 1 delete the words 'needed' and replace with 'should be allocated'

Add after 'reach fairer outcomes' - 'Liberation is the removal of normative barriers for oppressed and minoritised people.'

In paragraph 2 after 'we should be striving for' delete 'Equity rather than Equality' and replace with 'liberation from oppression for all minoritised groups.'

Congress resolves:

Delete in line 1 'Equity', and replace with 'Liberation'.

Add after 'implement the title': delete 'equity', replace with 'liberation',

Delete 'to bring a motion to the TUC to ask the UK trade union movement to do the same', replace with 'to ask the TUC to do the same.'

51  The co-option of EDI and the marginalisation of Black members and activists - Black members standing committee

Congress affirms the centrality of Equality to trade unionism and education.

However, congress notes that within institutions, EDI

  1. rhetoric by HE and FE managements risks the marginalisation of Black critical voices
  2. can become management policy that excludes the union
  3. can be weaponised in industrial disputes such as the misuse of 'decolonising the curriculum' to sack colleagues (University of Leicester 2021).

Congress believes these developments:

  1. depoliticise anti-racism and promote a limited politics of representation that considers student consumers and downplays institutional racism
  2. weaponise EDI to undermine UCU activists.

Congress notes workshops at the 2021 and 2022 Black Members Conference on the co-option of EDI.

Congress resolves for UCU to:

Provide resources to the Black Members Standing Committee to organise a conference involving researchers and activists on the co-option of EDI discourses;

Produce guidance and tools for branch reps to identify and challenge the co-option of EDI.


52  Sexual and gender-based violence and harassment work in UCU - Newcastle University 

Gender-based violence is a fundamental workplace and trade union issue. Just as we demand that employers do better, we must ensure that UCU is able to properly support members who have experienced sexual and gender-based violence or harassment (SGBVH) at work. 

The report of the Sexual Violence Task Group confirmed pervasively high levels of SGBVH in tertiary education, and there remains work to be done through training and awareness raising within and by the union to help combat it. 

Congress calls on NEC to: 

  1. provide SGBVH training and awareness-raising to all branches and regional offices
  2. encourage branches to create a committee position specifically focused on union work regarding SGBVH
  3. encourage branches to work with student unions and societies on SGBVH training and awareness
  4. provide resources and support for members at UK level on their rights and options when facing SGBVH. 


52A.1  Black members standing committee

Add after first paragraph: 'We note that migrant workers, in particular women, have been survivors to SGBVH.'

Add after 1. in 'Congress calls on NEC to (and re-number accordingly):

'2. ensure that the training:

  1. recognises the intersections of race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality to SGBVH
  2. acknowledges that, in some cases, men can be and are survivors of SGBVH (e.g. young black men have fallen victim to SGBVH)
  3. applies in all sectors of education
  4. push the TUC to recognise this in their own training.'


53  The impact of casualised contracts on survivors of domestic violence - London regional committee 

Women - shock absorbers of poverty - are increasingly affected by the intersection of domestic violence at home and work with low paid, insecure work, profoundly affecting their physical & psychosocial health. In post-16 education a 15% pay cut, limited access to legal aid, cost of living crisis and casualisation (lack of sick pay, leave and fear to speak out) force women to stay with their abusers. Black, trans and disabled women are disproportionately affected.

Congress resolves to: 

  1. pressure institutions to negotiate domestic violence policies prioritising the risks exacerbated by casualised contracts
  2. campaign for gender based hate crimes, including misogyny, to be recorded under hate crime legislation
  3. UCU to affiliate to DV campaigns, calling for legal aid and provision of counselling, and refuges for DV survivors
  4. support branches to use their local TU education units to provide member support
  5. provide specialist training to reps supporting survivors of DV. 


53A.1  Migrant members standing committee

At end of first paragraph, insert ', migrant' after 'trans'

At end of point 1, insert 'and immigration status'

Insert new point 6 at end of motion: 'Advocate for the abolition of No Recourse to Public Funds which restricts migrant women's access to refuges. Support the Step Up Migrant Women campaign - which seeks safe-reporting mechanisms and an end to data-sharing between the police and the Home Office- (i.e. sharing campaign via Friday email, invite to Equality Conference, etc.)'


54  Informed decision-making and safety in sex work - Women members standing committee

Congress notes existing policy (motion 56, 2017) which commits UCU to support self-organised sex workers in their call for decriminalisation of sex work to allow collective working and improved safety, and to work with NUS and other relevant groups.

Congress recognises:

  1. the right of adults to make informed choices to engage in sex work and for safety in that work, or to leave it 
  2. that sex workers are subject to intersectional stigma and discrimination
  3. increased risks for sex workers arising from inadequate support and information 
  4. growing economic pressures which inhibits choice. 

Congress resolves to task Equality Committee to work with all equality standing committees, student organisations including the NUS, and other relevant organisations to:

  1. create a toolkit which supports informed and safe routes of entry into and exit from sex work
  2. pursue campaigns to support decriminalisation of sex work, collective working, and safe choices.


55  Say no to misogyny - UCU Cymru 

Congress notes with alarm the rise in misogynistic statements seen in main stream media by celebrities such as Jeremy Clarkson and on social media by social influencers like Andrew Tate. 

Congress believes that this is a very dangerous trend that is sowing the seeds of   disharmony in our society. Congress further believes that statements made by social influencers such as Andrew Tate disproportionally influence our learners. 

Congress calls upon NEC to issue a statement unequivocally condemning such statements and to mount a campaign to raise awareness of the issue  amongst members in the UK. Congress also calls upon NEC to raise the issue with UK Government in order to request a UK wide awareness of these dangerous trends within the education sector. 


56  Health crisis and Covid impact on women - Women members standing committee  

Covid-19 continues to damage livelihoods and reduce gender equality, increasing the care burdens disproportionately carried by women. These developments affect UCU women members notably through damaged Health and Social care systems. Linked with the cost of living crisis, this further exacerbates women's inequality. 

These issues, including their intersectional aspects, were debated by women from across UCU at our recent equalities conference which highlighted the expertise of our women members in terms both of lived experience and knowledge of Health and Social Care. 

UCU is perfectly placed to launch a major campaign on the impact of the pandemic upon our members, with equalities as a central theme. The campaign would be launched via a major conference designed to understand trends and agendas in health and social care, and to prepare a UK-wide campaign linked to our equalities agenda. We ask the NEC to initiate this campaign as a matter of urgency. 


57  Disability discrimination - Disabled members standing committee  

Post COVID has exacerbated the number of learners with severe learning difficulties, making support for disabled students a huge issue. Post-16 educational employers are forcing our members to support students with extreme SEND (Special educational needs and disabilities) needs, ignoring the fact that they are not specialists in this field, failing to conduct necessary safeguarding or risk assessments for members and students.   

Management are misusing peer learning/learning buddies as a source of support for their peers with learning needs/SEND. These students are not adults, not professionals or trained specialists.   

 UCU calls for employers to:   

  1. carry out Risk Assessments with the view to providing reasonable adjustments for students  
  2. make available ongoing specialist SEND support for learners  
  3. provide comprehensive training, workload allocation and support for all staff working with disabled learners   
  4. ensure comprehensive counselling provision is made available to these group of learners  
  5. make EHCP (Education, Health and Care plan) funds available for this purpose.   


58  Cost-of-living crisis- National executive committee

Congress wishes to record its anger and dismay at the impact of Trussonomics and the Conservative government on disabled people.

Congress notes:

  1. that any cuts in benefits will jeopardise the ability of disabled people to afford to power their specialist and essential equipment
  2. the government's failure to plan for the impact of any blackouts this winter on disabled people
  3. that on average life costs £583 per month more for disabled people and an extra £1000 per month for families with disabled children.

Congress calls on the general secretary and the NEC to stand up and speak up for disabled members by:   

  1. condemning any cuts to disability allowance and entitlements as well as calling for the reinstatement of the £20 cut to Universal Credit and improved access to PIP
  2. highlighting the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on UCU members especially disabled members.


59  British Sign Language (BSL)  - National executive committee

Congress welcomes the fact that BSL is now an officially recognised language in the UK.   

Congress calls on the UCU to explore the possibility of providing training in BSL (British Sign Language) for any members that wish to learn BSL who can be deaf and hard of hearing members as well as their colleagues.   


60  Composite: Trans and non-binary solidarity - Liverpool John Moores University, LGBT+ members standing committee, National executive committee

Congress notes:

  1. the Tory government has stepped up its war on trans and non-binary people
  2. Sunak's decision to block the Scottish government's reforms of the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) in January
  3. increasingly hostile narratives in media / social media including moral panic around LGBT+ people, especially trans people
  4. individual and coordinated anti-LGBT+ attacks emboldened on Twitter since takeover by Elon Musk
  5. Trans Media Watch is a trans-led media organisation working to ensure accurate, respectful, media representations of trans people
  6. the murder of trans teenager Briana Ghey in Warrington in February
  7. the mass protests and vigils resulting from the above.

Congress believes:

  1. UCU's trans-inclusive position is correct, and should be re-affirmed, promoted and strengthened in the face of concerted political attacks on trans rights.
  2. this position must be made clear on every university and college campus and in the wider trade union movement
  3. social media platforms can be positive but also become unsafe and toxic environments for LGBT+ people, especially trans people
  4. UCU has duty to critically examine its media/social media engagement and strategies and consider how use impacts LGBT+ members.

Congress deplores

  1. the continuing transphobia, discrimination bullying of trans and non-binary people.
  2. the refusal to use correct names and pronouns and behave with respect, including regrettably sometimes in UCU.

Congress expresses solidarity with all trans and non-binary people worldwide.

Congress resolves:

  1. to mobilise UK-wide, nationally, regionally and locally for protests, vigils and marches in support of trans and non-binary rights and liberation, e.g., Trans+ Pride London, and local trans prides
  2. to engage with organisations like Trans Media Watch and LGBT+ members to produce LGBT+ inclusive media, including social media, guidelines for UCU and its members
  3. review media practices within UCU to ensure positive support for LGBT+ people and inclusive practice that does not expose members to toxic online environments
  4. work with TUC to put pressure on UK government to remove block to Scottish gender recognition reform and introduce similar legislation in the rest of the UK.
  5. produce information and guidance for branches for negotiating policies and procedures to support trans and non-binary people in their institutions.
  6. identify gaps and produce new information materials for members, including on importance of  using correct pronouns and names, and to encourage all members to participate in training on trans and non-binary issues.


61  LGBT+ health - LGBT+ members standing committee 

Congress notes: 

  1. over £1 billion public health cuts since 2016 have reduced spending on STI testing, contraception and treatment, unevenly and disproportionately impacting on different regions and nations and people with protected characteristics 
  2. consistent failures to implement a government strategy on reproductive and sexual health
  3. increasing attacks from anti-LGBT+ organisations in the UK and globally on sexual and reproductive health 
  4. anti-LGBT+ sentiments used as wedge issues in right wing organising 
  5. disproportionate impact of the 2022 Monkeypox breakout on LGBT+ and Black communities.

Congress believes that all communities across the UK must have access to free and accessible sexual health services.

Congress resolves to: 

  1. work with sexual health and LGBT+ organisations and UK-wide bodies like TUC to campaign for the reversal of cuts and the implementation of UK-wide strategy 
  2. develop resources for branches to campaign locally on these issues in collaboration with local organisations. 


62  Gender Recognition Reform Bill - University of St Andrews 

Congress notes: 

  1. Scottish Parliament passed the Gender Recognition Reform Bill (by 86 to 36) which would remove barriers for people to legally change their gender by allowing for self-identification 
  2. this bill is now being blocked by the British government (Section 35, Scotland Act 1998) 


  1. people should be supported through self-identification and transition 
  2. transphobia cannot go unchallenged - UCU has a responsibility to trans and non-binary members to respond strongly to attacks on their rights 
  3. in affirming the right to safety and livelihood for trans and non-binary individuals who have moved to Scotland to flee oppression and persecution 
  4. in democratic decision making, here threatened by Westminster overriding Scottish Parliament.


  1. to strengthen solidarity with trans and non-binary members 
  2. to examine practices in our union and work to make them more trans-inclusive 
  3. to make UK-wide representations to persuade the UK government to recognise and respect the democratic authority of the Scottish Parliament.


63  Refugees welcome, campaign against racism - National executive committee 

Congress reaffirms solidarity with refugees and migrants and commitment to opposing racism. 

Congress deplores: 

  1. the continuing hostile climate to refugees 
  2. the racist immigration and asylum legislation 
  3. the 'Rwanda plan' to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda 
  4. the attacks and protests by Patriotic Alliance and other far right groups on refugee housing. 

Congress calls on NEC, members and branches to: 

  1. step up the campaign to overturn racist asylum and immigration legislation
  2. and bring a motion to TUC Congress on this
  3. express support and solidarity with refugees and migrants, including participating in broad based anti-racist protests
  4. show active support for refugees under attack, including through solidarity demos and counter demos against far right groups at their accommodation
  5. organise teachouts during strikes on anti-racism and asylum rights with refugee speakers and invite them to branch meetings.


63A.1  LGBT+ members standing committee

After 'opposing racism,' in the first paragraph add:

Congress reaffirms solidarity with LGBT+ people in countries where law discriminates against LGBT+ and those who flee such countries.

Under Congress deplores add now points:

  1. the Anti Homosexuality Bill in Uganda that calls for the death penalty
  2. far right organising in many countries attacking LGBT+ people.

Under Congress calls add new point:

  1. regularly report on international action that discriminates against LGBT+ people
  2. produce material and events about situations for LGBT+ internationally including the lives and issues of LGBT+ refugees in the UK.


63A.2  Liverpool John Moores University

Point 4: Delete 'Alliance and other' - Add 'Alternative, Homeland, Britain First and other fascist and'

Point a: Add to end - 'including the Illegal Immigration Bill and Nationality and Borders Act'


L5  Rights of international students

Congress reaffirms the position of UCU in deploring actions taken by the government to limit the rights of international students to bring their families to the UK during their studies.


64  Oppose the far right and the government - National executive committee 

Congress condemns the scapegoating of refugees and migrants by the government and specifically the new 'illegal migration bill'.  Congress opposes the Rwanda Plan to deport asylum seekers.  

Government rhetoric is leading to organised intimidation of refugees by Far Right and racist groups.  

Government anti-woke statements are leading to the targeting of LGBT+ communities. The government is opening the door to the Far Right. 

Congress encourages all UCU branches to work with antiracist, refugee solidarity and LGBT+ organisations to oppose mobilisations by the Far Right and to we commit to campaigning against the illegal migration bill.  

Congress demands: 

  1. safe legal routes for refugees
  2. day-one rights to work & social security for all migrants
  3. abolition of detention & deportations
  4. a simple process for all UK residents to gain permanent residency
  5. restoration & extension of free movement.

UCU must encourage & assist branches to organise practical solidarity: 

  1. support & defend colleagues subject to immigration controls
  2. collect & deliver aid
  3. cooperate with local Anti-Raids and Anti-Detention-Centre groups for training and protests.


64A.1  New City College (THC Poplar)

Insert after 'Far Right' (paragraph 3), 'This is further underlined by the meeting between Sunak and Italian PM Meloni in April which serves to normalise relations with a politician who is the heir to Mussolini and the post war MSI which gathered his defeated supporters together.'

65  The fascist Meloni in the UK and racist/illegal immigration bill - National executive committee

The visit of Italian PM Giorgia Meloni, leader of the fascist Brothers of Italy, to Britain was yet another sign of the governments willingness to associate with anyone who is prepared to echo their scapegoating of refugees.

Meloni is not an 'ordinary' politician, she stands in the tradition of Mussolini and the post war MSI. She has introduced a state of emergency to 'deal' with refugees, remove their rights without parliamentary scrutiny.

In Britain the Illegal Migration Bill and the Rwanda plan are systemic attempts to remove the rights of refugees and to create a toxic environment.

These policies have led to a growing number of mobilisations by racist & fascist groups.

Resolves to:

  1. UCU condemns the visit of Meloni to Britain
  2. UCU agrees to campaign actively against the Illegal Migration Bill and the Rwanda Plan
  3. UCU agrees to support promote mobilisations against fascist groups such as Patriotic Alternative, Homeland and Britain First.


Last updated: 15 December 2023