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UCU passes motion to fight government policy of cuts and privatisation

5 January 2011

The national executive committee (NEC) of UCU passed a motion at a special NEC meeting on 17 December 2010 that reaffirms the union's commitment to fight the government's policies of cuts and privatisation and agreed to support demonstrations in Manchester and London on 29 January 2011.

Looking ahead to forthcoming protests the motion backed both the longstanding 'A Future That Works' Manchester protest rally being organised by the TUC, UCU and the National Union of Students on Saturday 29 January and another anti-cuts event in London on the same day, full details for which are to be made available shortly.

The full motion can be read below:

Resistance to Government Policy on Cuts and Privatisation

NEC celebrates the unprecedented resistance that is developing in opposition to the Government's cuts agenda in education, including the demonstration on 9th December, and the wave of student direct action and occupations.  NEC recognizes the immense contribution of UCU staff in making the arrangements for the rally and lobby of Parliament on the 9th December.

NEC notes a) the nem con decision of the HESC to celebrate direct action and occupations by students against the privatisation of HE, and the cutting of the EMA, b) the call from the HESC that the UCU should organise a demonstration and lobby of Parliament before Xmas, and c) the recent decisions of the FEC and the HEC on a national mobilization and march through London in the new year.

NEC is also aware of the use of crowd control tactics by the Metropolitan Police that threaten the right to protest, including excessive force and 'kettling' that are clearly designed to deter young people form demonstrating their opposition on the streets.  It is also aware of the potentially murderous assaults on demonstrators by some police officers in Parliament Square that left one young demonstrator in need of emergency brain surgery after being beaten about the head.  It is aware of one disabled student protestor being pulled from his wheelchair on two occasions, and dragged across the road by police officers.

The NEC unequivocally condemns this brutality and anti-democratic policing, and demands a public inquiry and a TUC investigation.  It calls for the identification of the police officers involved in these and other assaults, and their appropriate prosecution.

It instructs the President and the General Secretary immediately to release a press statement on behalf of the NEC to this effect, and to seek to organize a joint Press Conference with the NUS on the policing of recent demonstrations, in London and elsewhere.  The purpose of the press conference should be the condemnation of the excessive police tactics (reportedly including police dogs, charges by mounted police, beating with truncheons, use of tazers, kettling, and the unlawful filmed interviews of unaccompanied minors, systematically used across different police forces).

NEC resolves to affiliate, and offer initial financial support of £500, to the 'Defend the Right to Protest' campaign.

NEC further resolves that the UCU will:

  • request all members and branches to support calls from representative student bodies for staff and students to support and attend all future protests by any means possible on any subsequent working day on which the fee cap removal or HE and/or FE bills or White Papers are issued or debated in Parliament
  • mobilise jointly for the rally and demonstration in Manchester (jointly called by the TUC) and a demonstration in London (in line with HEC policy) both on 29 January
  • invite branches and regions in the north to mobilise for the Manchester event and branches and regions in the south for the London event
  • call an organising meeting in the first week in January to mobilise for both events. Invitations should be issued to the trade union movement and all organizations pledged to fighting the cuts including the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, Education Activist Network and the London Student Assembly.
  • take out a full-page advertisement in The Guardian, jointly with the NUS and with other trade unions if possible, calling for the 29th January demonstration and explaining resistance to educational privatisation in the context of the cuts in general, and under the banner of, 'The students are fighting to defend education for all.  Join them!', and signed by a wide range of trade union General Secretaries and public intellectuals and politicians;
  • authorize the issuance of an press release early in the new term, echoing the NUS President's support for student occupations and other forms of direct action in opposition to Government policy;
  • to organize a demonstration to Parliament on the day that the White Paper on post-16 education funding and organisation is released, and on the day that any Bill is presented to Parliament for debate;
  • urge the FEC and HEC, and their Secretariats, to work closely with ROCC and the Campaigns Team in linking the defence of public education to the industrial campaigns over pensions and jobs, equality and the pay spine;
  • support and encourage the General Secretary's initiative in seeking to get the TUC to call regional demonstrations between now and March as a means of building a half-million-strong national demonstration, as called by the TUC.

NEC also resolves that in the organisation and publicity for demonstrations and action against the cuts, the Browne Review and the current privatisation drive, elected lay officers should work closely with national officials and the General Secretary. Their involvement will be to help mobilise the most effective support for action, and to ensure that changing membership responses are fully accommodated. Similarly, in coordinating meetings with other trade unions and other organisations, lay elected officer (eg the chair of ROCC and the President) should work jointly with the General Secretary and national officials.

NEC instructs UCU to initiate a campaign together with the TUC, the student movement, including NUS, anti cuts groups and the education activists' network, community groups and Amnesty International, for responsible policing and the right to engage in protest without fear, intimidation, police violence or provocation.

Last updated: 11 December 2015