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Other employment related matters

09:30, Friday 29 May 2009

Health and safety (paragraphs 1-4)

40  Strengthening the health and safety agenda - Blackburn College

This congress welcomes the progress over the last two years in strengthening the health and safety work of our union. UCU has more trained H&S reps, provides better advice for members and has become more involved as a union in the broader H&S movement.

However complacency would be very dangerous. The government's systematic underfunding of health and safety regulation is undermining safety standards across the UK, while financial strictures will inevitably encourage educational institutions to deprioritise our members' health, safety and welfare.

The results of recent membership surveys show the urgent need to build on the progress already made. Congress resolves to:

  • establish a small national committee to drive forward the union's H&S work
  • raise awareness among our members on H&S
  • encourage the establishment of safety reps' networks at workplace/regional levels
  • use the opportunities afforded by the SRSC regulations to build the union.

CARRIED

41  Bullying in colleges and universities - NESCOT

Congress notes with concern, the rise in cases of accusations of bullying against lecturers and the increased use of bullying policies by management against lecturers, and their representatives.

Congress instructs the NEC to:

  1. immediately investigate and monitor the current situation in FE and HE. In particular reviewing how policies on bullying can often ignore any form of natural justice by allowing evidence from anonymous accusers
  2. to develop a policy of support for members, to help them clear their names, and help them take to court their accusers
  3. to immediately review the support given to those lay officers who are harassed, bullied and victimised by college managements
  4. to review the regional support that is given to officers and their branch in fighting such attacks.

CARRIED

42  Stress - Composite (National Executive Committee)

Congress is disturbed, but not surprised, at the unacceptably high stress levels found by the 2008 UCU stress survey reports. The HSE questionnaire shows HE, FE and PE respondents fall far below the HSE 'aspirational benchmark' of well-being on the factors of: demands; control; managerial support; peer support; relationships; role; change.

Congress instructs the executive:

  1. to publicise the results, including their use in recruitment;
  2. to take appropriate action, including at regional level, to assist branches to press effectively to reduce stress levels, and to increase well-being on each of the HSE factors. These actions may include:
    1. publicising and distributing the stress toolkit
    2. developing 'best practice' models based on successful initiatives to fight stress
    3. a pilot campaign focussing on institutions with high stress levels
    4. action on workloads.
  3. to carry out surveys at regular intervals, and to report back to congress to chart progress.

CARRIED

Environmental work (paragraph 6)

43  Environment - South Thames College 

This congress recognises the importance of the UCU increasing its profile on environmental issues.

In particular with:

  1. employers – improving environment management in the workplace
  2. staff – identifying opportunities to raise employee awareness
  3. students – linking with campaign organisations like People and Planet
  4. sector bodies – strengthening links with bodies like HEFCE, EAUC, and government departments to develop policy in areas like 'greening the curriculum'
  5. public – supporting campaigns that strengthen the profile of the trade union movement in relation to 'anti-environment measures' like Heathrow expansion

UCU will need to:

  1. promote the role of UCU environment reps and seek formal recognition within institutions
  2. provide environment courses in the 2009-10 reps training programme
  3. organise a 1 day conference in late 2009 to help co-ordinate strategy
  4. liaise with other unions to map out the skills and jobs needed in a 'green new deal' prior to the Copenhagen summit.

CARRIED

44  Anniversary of miners' strike - Barnsley College

This congress notes that it is the anniversary of the 1984-5 miners' strike.

The heroic year long strike was an outstanding example of class resistance to a government led attack on the mining community and the trade union movement as a whole.

This congress believes that:

  • deep mined coal is an essential part of a future non-nuclear energy policy
  • it will require substantial investment in clean coal technology to make coal a viable part of an integrated energy policy
  • energy policy should be based on 'people before profits'.

This congress supports the case for deep mined coal as part of a future non-nuclear integrated energy policy in line with the clean coal technology recommendations of the National Union of Mineworkers.

REMITTED

Pensions (paragraphs 7 and 8)

45  Defending pensions - Composite (Chesterfield College; City and Islington College Camden Road)

Congress notes:

  1. the threats made to public sector pensions by sections of the media, politicians and the 'pensions industry'
  2. the attempt by the media to divide public and private sector workers over pensions
  3. the pressure on final salary and defined contribution pensions as a result of the economic crisis
  4. the recent attacks made on Irish public sector pensions by the 'pension levy' and the vigorous campaign to defence pensions mounted by Irish workers.

Congress believes that pensions represent deferred earnings, that any attempt to restrict pensions rights are a direct attack on workers' wellbeing and that final salary pensions for public sector workers must be defended against all attacks.

At a time when taxpayers have been given no choice about their own money being pumped into bailouts for banks and financial services to rescue the 'top end of town' it would add further insult to injury for public sector workers, who serve the public good for much less financial reward, to have their pension rights attacked.

Congress resolves to instruct the NEC to:

  • publicly oppose any suggestion that public sector final salary pension schemes be either closed, have their benefits reduced or employee contributions increased
  • convene or join a campaign with other public sector unions and the TUC to defend, from any attacks, public sector final salary pension schemes
  • coordinate with other trade unions to launch a powerful united campaign to defend all workers' pension rights across the public & private sectors.

CARRIED

46  State pension - Eastern and Homes Counties retired members

Despite the strong campaign on the centenary of the state pension, the government has failed to raise the state pension even to the poverty level. The fact that the current select committee enquiry is looking into tackling pensioner poverty indicates that the government is aware of its failure in this respect.

Congress instructs UCU to redouble its efforts in campaigning, together with other trade unions, for an increase of the basic state pension to at least the official poverty level.

CARRIED (AMENDED)

46A.1 Northern Region Retired Members

2nd paragraph, after 'together with other trade unions' add 'and the National Pensioners Convention' before the comma. At the end of the sentence before the full stop add ', increased annually in line with the highest of prices or earnings index'

CARRIED

Substantive motion:

Despite the strong campaign on the centenary of the state pension, the government has failed to raise the state pension even to the poverty level. The fact that the current select committee enquiry is looking into tackling pensioner poverty indicates that the government is aware of its failure in this respect.

Congress instructs UCU to redouble its efforts in campaigning, together with other trade unions and the National Pensioners Convention, for an increase of the basic state pension to at least the official poverty level, increased annually in line with the highest of prices or earnings index.


Support (paragraph 14)

47  Vice-chancellor/principal and senior pay restraint - University of Essex

Congress notes the growing public anger over executive pay in both the private and public sectors, and also notes the restraint being applied in the USA and the UK by government. Congress believes it is now time for the HE and FE sectors in the UK to follow suit.

Congress calls on HE and FE institutions to restrain the pay increases made in 2009-2012 to vice-chancellors, principals and other senior staff in HE and FE institutions such that they will not be permitted to take pay rises greater in percentage terms than the lowest increases paid to staff on negotiated pay scales.

CARRIED (AMENDED)

47A.1  South East Regional Committee

Insert new paragraph at end: 'Congress is also concerned that the number of senior academic staff in FE and HE institutions is increasing with proportionately less front line teaching staff and instructs UCU officers to carry out an analysis of this and report to the NEC so that a campaign can be developed'.

CARRIED

47A.2  University of Portsmouth

The second paragraph to start with a new sentence 'Congress calls on HE and FE institutions to adopt good governance principles and transparency and to publish details of senior staff remuneration when they are agreed.' The first word of the current second paragraph 'Congress' to be replaced by 'It also'.

CARRIED

Substantive motion:

Congress notes the growing public anger over executive pay in both the private and public sectors, and also notes the restraint being applied in the USA and the UK by government. Congress believes it is now time for the HE and FE sectors in the UK to follow suit.

Congress calls on HE and FE institutions to adopt good governance principles and transparency and to publish details of senior staff remuneration when they are agreed. It also calls on HE and FE institutions to restrain the pay increases made in 2009-2012 to vice-chancellors, principals and other senior staff in HE and FE institutions such that they will not be permitted to take pay rises greater in percentage terms than the lowest increases paid to staff on negotiated pay scales.

Congress is also concerned that the number of senior academic staff in FE and HE institutions is increasing with proportionately less front line teaching staff and instructs UCU officers to carry out an analysis of this and report to the NEC so that a campaign can be developed.

Last updated: 29 May 2009