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Congress 2024: Business of the equality committee

21 May 2024

UCU Congress 2024: 31 May - 09:00-10:30

Motions have been allocated to a section of the NEC's report to Congress (UCU2119). Paragraph headings refer to paragraphs within this report. CBC may have added some new paragraph headings to facilitate the ordering of motions.

Section 2: Business of the Equality Committee

Section 2.2, Engaging members on equality

38  Composite: In support of the Black members standing committee - University of Dundee, University of Manchester

UCU Congress notes:

  1. the damning report published in *THE on entrenched racism within the UCU
  2. the statement of the UCU Black Members Standing Committee regarding the culture of racism within the union and the higher education sector, and the lack of action taken to deal with this in the union
  3. the Black Members' Standing Committee's (BMSC) decision to boycott further engagement with the union as a critical response to the pervasive structural racism that is deeply ingrained within our union
  4. the disregard with which the BMSC's repeated attempts to address these injustices have been met, leaving their voices unheard.
  5. the failure of UCU leadership to offer anything more than warm words in response to a situation that is unacceptable to us as members of a union which should be anti-racist.

UCU Congress resolves:

  1. to unequivocally condemns the union's glaring failure to combat systemic racism and disrespect towards black members and staff
  2. to publicly express our solidarity with Black members and staff and support for the Black members standing committee
  3. to stand in solidarity with the BMSC, endorsing its bold defiance against UCU's injustices and supporting its vision for a truly inclusive union
  4. to call for an external, and independent, investigation into racism within our union.
  5. to call on the General Secretary to:
  • take immediate, decisive action to dismantle the systems of oppression that silence BMSC and discriminate against our Black siblings who work for the union
  • as the elected official with responsibility for the management of the UCU offices, must fully cooperate with both the Black members standing committee and the external investigation.


38A.1  London regional committee

Under Congress resolves e, add two further bullet points:

  • ensure meaningful involvement from BMSC and Unite in independent investigation into institutional racism, including agreeing TORs
  • ensure Black member network mailing lists and blog are: updated and appropriately resourced; accessible for BMSC to actively communicate Black members' issues and UCU schemes benefitting Black members

FELL (reinstated as motion B18)

39  Women, race and intersectionality - Women members standing committee

Congress notes:

  1. research shows Black women face disproportionately high levels of double and triple discrimination in the workplace
  2. the intersection of gender, race and other protective characteristics is not widely considered, understood or acknowledged

Congress believes:

  1. where reps/members have a clear understanding of how intersection manifests in our workplaces, they are better able to represent Black women
  2. understanding how intersectional discrimination manifests in our workplaces is key to developing more inclusive practice in UCU.

Congress resolves to:

  1. commission research into intersectionality in post-16 education including a survey and feedback from Black women members
  2. develop training/CPD as part of the CPD programme for reps, members and UCU staff as part UCU's commitment to the TUC Anti Racism Taskforce
  3. set up a working group across all equality strands to identify the intersection of inequalities in order to support UCU's equality, campaigning and bargaining work.


39A.1  LGBT+ Members' Standing Committee

add to resolves ii.

'and including relevant UCU and TUC LGBT+ committees and campaigns.'


40  Developing perimenopause and the menopause education in colleges and universities - UCU Cymru

Congress notes that 51 per cent of the UK's population is female and one of the biggest health issues that impacts on all women is that connected with both the perimenopause and the menopause.

Congress believes this is a health issue for which there is a widescale lack of knowledge and awareness of its impact in the workplace. Although most institutions have menopause policies that is not the same as making people aware of the impact on both the perimenopause and the menopause on women's health.

Congress calls for UCU to write to all FE and HE institutions that the nature and impact of both the perimenopause and the menopause there should be included in mandatory training for both staff and students.


41  Support for single parents - University of Birmingham

Congress notes:

  1. the Single Parent Rights campaign are calling on the government to make single parenthood a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010
  2. the Single Parent Rights campaign has identified that discrimination against single parents has increased, and Gingerbread has identified how this has worsened since the pandemic
  3. other unions, including UNISON, have agreed to support the work of Single Parent Rights.

Congress believes:

  1. UCU should call on the government to support single parents through legislative/policy change, and unequivocally to improve conditions for our members
  2. that single parenthood can have multiple disadvantages that intersect with the discrimination associated with each of the protected characteristics, especially sex.

Congress resolves:

  1. to campaign to support single parents
  2. to endorse and support the Single Parent Rights' campaign group call on the government to add single parents as the tenth protected characteristic to the UK Equality Act.

REMITTED (not taken)

41A.1  Yorkshire and Humberside regional committee

Add new point 4 under Congress notes:

  1. discrimination against single parents is a problem both of discrimination against parents and discrimination against single people, who are not a protected category under the Equality Act 2010.

Under Congress believes in point a after 'legislative/policy change', add

'including outlawing all discrimination on grounds of marital status,'

Under Congress resolves, add new iii

To support reform of the Equality Act 2010 so that all single people are protected from discrimination on grounds of marital/relationship status.

41A.2  University of Durham

Add to 'Congress believes:'

  1. 'that single parenthood intersects with student status, causing disadvantage and hardship for postgraduate researcher (PGR) and student members, e.g. ineligibility for childcare funding or maternity allowance and PGR stipend income deducted from Universal Credit inconsistently and disadvantageously.'

Add to 'Congress resolves':

  1. 'to lobby government to extend funded childcare to all full-time HE/FE students (including PGRs) across the UK and ensure students are treated no worse than staff when calculating benefit entitlements and childcare funding eligibility.'

42  Introduce Caste as a protected characteristic - University of Oxford 

Congress notes: 

  1. UCU's equality policy identifies 9 protected characteristics: age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion/belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage & civil partnership, and pregnancy/maternity, however, the policy omits discrimination based on caste
  2. in November 2023, the University of Oxford UCU branch voted to recognise 'caste' as a protected characteristic. 

Congress believes: 

  1. caste-based discrimination has no place within UK institutions nor within the UCU
  2. caste remains a ubiquitous pernicious phenomenon worldwide. It manifests globally and affects public relationships and access for individuals beyond geographical, ethnic, racial, occupational, national, and religious boundaries
  3. UCU must work with organisations, such as ACDA (Anti-Caste Discrimination Alliance) in the creation of workshops, programs, and training for members and staff. 

Congress resolves: 

  1. to recognise 'caste' as a protected characteristic
  2. to work meaningfully with external groups to implement training and awareness within UCU
  3. support external organisations in their work. 

REMITTED (not taken)

Section 2.4, Public statements and solidarity

43  Keep racism out of the General Election - Imperial College

Congress deplores:

  1. continued attempts by the government to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda
  2. the detention of asylum seekers on the Bibby Stockholm prison barge
  3. recurrent racist statements by former Tory ministers such as Liz Truss and Suella Braverman
  4. Keir Starmer's failure to oppose government scapegoating of refugees and his appeal for a Labour vote to reduce immigration

Congress further deplores:

  1. growing electoral support for the racist Reform Party
  2. continued attacks by far-right groups on refugee housing.

Congress commits the UCU to initiate a joint trade union campaign, in advance of the General Election, to 'Kick Racism Out of the Election', including:

  1. opposition to the Bibby Stockholm barge and defending the rights of refugees
  2. opposition to all attempts to house asylum seekers in inferior accommodation
  3. a national 'Kick Racism Out of the Election' demonstration in the month before polling day.

REMITTED (not taken)

43A.1  Migrant members standing committee

Add point iv: 'Calling on all political parties to abolish the hostile immigration environment policies'

44  Enabling anti-authoritarian protest in the workplace and beyond - National executive committee

Congress notes that:

  1. across the four nations, UCU members and our students are being affected by far-right authoritarian attacks on equalities issues and the right to protest, including on campuses
  2.  Black and migrant members are particularly vulnerable to police and other institutional violences as a result of intersectional oppressions.


  1. UCU should robustly defend and support members' right to protest inequality in the workplace and beyond.

Resolves to:

  1. build our mobilisations and visible presence in campus and street equality protests
  2. provide 'bustcards' with safety and legal advice for members attending protests and picket lines supported by UCU, and make clear how to access legal support in case of arrest during protests
  3. offer members opportunities to undertake active witness training
  4. work with campaign groups and established organisations such as Liberty to resist attacks on worker and personal freedoms (including management teams inviting police onto campuses).

REMITTED (not taken)

45  The Disabled People's Manifesto - Disabled members standing committee

Congress calls on all political parties to commit to implementing the Disabled Peoples Manifesto including the incorporation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled People into UK law.

This includes the following:

  1. bringing into force all provisions of the Equality Act, including the socio-economic duty
  2. introduce a mandatory two-week timeframe for reasonable adjustments and an enforcement framework which does not fully depend on an individual
  3. full implementation of the BSL Act
  4. an election fund to support reasonable adjustments for Disabled candidates at local and national elections
  5. introduce non-means tested legal aid for all discrimination cases
  6. introduce a national requirement for all newly built homes to be accessible and 10% to be wheelchair accessible.

Congress calls on UCU to work with Deaf and Disabled People's Organisations (DDPOs) to campaign actively for the implementation of the Disabled Peoples Manifesto within the lifetime of the next Parliament.

REMITTED (not taken)

46  Opposing the anti-woke agenda - LGBT+ members standing committee

Congress notes:

  1. the term woke applied pejoratively by the right to campaigns including Black Lives Matter, women's equality, LGBT+ rights, social justice, and climate action
  2. the war on 'woke' and 'common-sense' adoption of other far-right tropes
  3. false claims that trans-inclusive activists regularly have prevented speakers
  4. the moral panic created to justify various political interventions including the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Act 2023.

Congress believes that:

  1. 'woke' is positive and gives voice to marginalised groups
  2. anti-woke measures can undermine rather than promote freedom of speech
  3. trans people are particularly at risk from far-right agendas.

Congress resolves to:

  1. declare UCU as proudly woke and supportive of campaigns e.g. those in notes 1
  2. encourage members to engage in these struggles and support members penalised for doing so
  3. campaign for progressive measures e.g. the Scottish GRA reform and against ones that are 'anti-woke'.

REMITTED (not taken)

47  Composite: Cass Report - Women members' standing committee, LGBT+ Members' Standing Committee

Congress notes:

  1. the publication of the Cass Report on 10th April 2024
  2. its serious methodological flaws (e.g. exclusion of trans-specific knowledge or experience, no definition of anti-trans prejudice)
  3. its selective use of evidence and promotion of unevidenced claims (artificially high evidential standards, claims about brain development and that social media can cause gender dysphoria)
  4. its disregard for Gillick Competence and the Equality Act (2010)
  5. emphasis that it's protecting trans people from toxicity of debate around trans issues, while adopting harmful gender-perspectives in its recommendations.

Congress believes:

  1. the Cass Report provides no evidence for the 'new approach' it recommends
  2. it falls short of the standard of rigorous and ethical research expected of research professionals
  3. its assertion that people under 25 cannot consent to gender-affirming care endangers access to other (including reproductive) healthcare.

Congress resolves to:

  1. commit to working with trans-led organisations to resist the Cass Report recommendations
  2. pressure UK governments for an approach to trans healthcare that affirms and centres trans people.

REMITTED (not taken)

48  Tackling transphobia - University of Edinburgh

Congress notes:

  1. hateful responses to the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act which came into force 1st April 2024.

Congress believes:

  1. the rhetoric of 'academic freedom' is being utilized narrowly to delegitimize and create a hostile climate for vulnerable groups
  2. we must move beyond being reactive to events and turn existing policy into strategy.

Congress resolves:

  1. to call on UCU Equality Committee, particularly the LGBT+ and Women Members Standing Committees, to develop a time-sensitive strategic plan for countering 'anti-wokeness' (especially its expression through transphobia and the weaponization of 'academic freedom')
  2. this plan should recommend concrete actions that can be taken at all levels of UCU
  3. to commit to working with trans-led organisations in developing this plan and any actions.

REMITTED (not taken)

49  The war on disabled people - Disabled members standing committee

Congress is shocked, dismayed and angered by the decision of Rishi Sunak to declare War on Disabled People. Rishi Sunak and his government has:

  1. insulted disabled people in the UK at the UN by not sending a Government minister to respond to the UNCRPD Committee report on 18th March
  2. vowed to take benefits away from people suffering from anxiety and depression and target Personal Independence Payments if they win the next election
  3. committed itself to removing responsibility for issuing sick notes from GPs and handing it to bureaucrats which could have a hugely detrimental impact on disabled people.

Congress reaffirms its commitment to the Social Model of Disability

Congress calls on the next government to:

  1. enshrine the UNCRDP into UK law as one of its first acts
  2. reform the benefit system so that it is not based on ableist assumptions but reflects the principles of the social model of disability.

REMITTED (not taken)

Last updated: 3 June 2024