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Taking action in higher education

Business of the recruitment, organising and campaigning committee

UCU Congress 2012: Sunday 10 June 2012, 14:00-15:45

Chapter 7 of the NEC's report to Congress 2012:
UCU413.html | UCU413.rtf

Motions:

77 - National Organising Plan
78 - Recruitment and training of Women, Black, Disabled and LGBT members
79 - Information on equality groups
80 - Protection from victimisation for trade union activities for UCU reps
82 - Flexible training provision
83 - Elected editorial board
84 - A campaign for non-casualised employment
85 - In defence of the jobs of all members
86 - Prison education and privatisation
87 - Opposition & strategy against outsourcing, shared services and restructuring
88 - Privatisation at the University of Essex
89 - USS pensions
90 - OU redundancies in Continental Europe and stalling of negotiations
L7 - Emergency motion on Salford University Dispute

91 - National Staff Satisfaction Survey


77 National Organising Plan National Executive Committee

Congress notes the continued success of the National Organising Plan including through recruitment; increased activism; campaigning against privatisation; and support for members in dispute whether local or national. Congress calls for NEC to continue this work as an integral part of the union's defence both of our members and of education itself.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

77A.1 London regional committee

add at end:

Congress further resolves to mandate the NEC to launch a major initiative to actively build the fighting fund, calling on every member to contribute a £10 levy organised with publicity and via collection sheets for regions, branches and reps. And to publicise how members can access these funds so that financial hardship does not limit our ability to defend our members.

CARRIED

77A.2 National Executive Committee

Add at end of the paragraph:

The NEC to ensure that equality issues and the implementation of the single equality scheme are an integral part of the NOP and to include a section in the annual report to Congress on how this has been achieved.

CARRIED

SUBSTANTIVE MOTION

Congress notes the continued success of the National Organising Plan including through recruitment; increased activism; campaigning against privatisation; and support for members in dispute whether local or national. Congress calls for NEC to continue this work as an integral part of the union's defence both of our members and of education itself.

Congress further resolves to mandate the NEC to launch a major initiative to actively build the fighting fund, calling on every member to contribute a £10 levy organised with publicity and via collection sheets for regions, branches and reps. And to publicise how members can access these funds so that financial hardship does not limit our ability to defend our members.

The NEC to ensure that equality issues and the implementation of the single equality scheme are an integral part of the NOP and to include a section in the annual report to Congress on how this has been achieved.

Recruitment (after report paragraph 2.4)

78 Recruitment and training of Women, Black, Disabled and LGBT members - National Executive Committee

Congress reaffirms that equality is at the heart of UCU work and recognises the importance of recruiting women, black, disabled and LGBT members and involving them in all aspects of UCU work, including local, regional/devolved nation and UK committees.

Congress mandates NEC to:

  1. target the recruitment of women, Black, disabled and LGBT members
  2. target training courses to women, Black, disabled and LGBT members to become case workers and reps at all levels
  3. ensure all new reps and existing reps participate in equality training and refresher courses
  4. ensure that the relevant Equality Standing Committee is involved in the development of any new training on equality issues or training aimed specifically at particular equality groups
  5. monitor the number of women, Black, disabled and LGBT member case workers and reps at branch, regional/devolved nation and UK level
  6. report on progress to Congress 2013.

CARRIED


79 Information on equality groups - National Executive Committee

Congress recognises that the data UCU holds on members with a protected characteristic could be improved and would assist in providing more evidenced based support in our negotiations with employers and Government.  The attack on jobs and services is having a disproportionate impact on Black members, Disabled members, LGBT members and Women members.

Congress calls upon the NEC to

  1. collect redundancy and cuts to services information which includes the protected characteristics of the members involved
  2. encourage members to review their membership information so our records accurately reflect the protected characteristics of our members
  3. monitor members participation in, for example, training and all conferences
  4. regularly review data held to ensure campaigns and negotiation priorities reflect the diversity of the membership.

CARRIED

Supporting reps in the workplace, paragraph 3

80 Protection from victimisation for trade union activities for UCU reps - Cardiff University

Congress recognises the importance of supporting reps who are victimised or otherwise targeted and calls on NEC to:

  1. review existing data of reports of victimisation of UCU workplace reps, broken down by the nature of the victimisation, the triggers (in particular, whether a result of raising equality issues), the Union's response at branch, regional and national level, and outcome.
  2. review UCU's existing support for workplace reps victimized for trade union activities, and review good practice across the trade union movement.
    report the findings to Congress in 2013.
  3. produce guidelines based on the good practice identified in 1 and 2 and submit to Congress in 2014 a procedure for adoption by all branches that will ensure all reports of victimization are taken seriously and investigated, to ensure that victimised reps receive the Union's support at the earliest opportunity.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

80A.1 Yorkshire and Humberside regional committee

Add new paragraph at end:

Congress acknowledges the success of strike action at Coleg Morgannwg in defending Guy Stoate from victimisation and the threat of substantial strike action in saving the job of Graham Mustin at Barnsley College. Congress recognises the importance of collective industrial action in defending union representatives from victimisation and resolves to support branches who take such action by identifying them as local disputes of national significance.

CARRIED

SUBSTANTIVE MOTION

Congress recognises the importance of supporting reps who are victimised or otherwise targeted and calls on NEC to:

  1. review existing data of reports of victimisation of UCU workplace reps, broken down by the nature of the victimisation, the triggers (in particular, whether a result of raising equality issues), the Union's response at branch, regional and national level, and outcome.
  2. review UCU's existing support for workplace reps victimized for trade union activities, and review good practice across the trade union movement.
    report the findings to Congress in 2013.
  3. produce guidelines based on the good practice identified in 1 and 2 and submit to Congress in 2014 a procedure for adoption by all branches that will ensure all reports of victimization are taken seriously and investigated, to ensure that victimised reps receive the Union's support at the earliest opportunity.

Congress acknowledges the success of strike action at Coleg Morgannwg in defending Guy Stoate from victimisation and the threat of substantial strike action in saving the job of Graham Mustin at Barnsley College. Congress recognises the importance of collective industrial action in defending union representatives from victimisation and resolves to support branches who take such action by identifying them as local disputes of national significance.


82 Flexible training provision - Bangor University

The increasingly difficult educational environment in future will mean that, more than ever, UCU activists will need to be properly trained. While congratulating UCU on its excellent training programme, we have learned by experience that it is not always practicable for activists to exercise their legal right to the time off necessary to take full advantage of this programme. Conference therefore calls upon UCU to investigate the feasibility of providing as much training as possible online, including online discussion to facilitate exchange of experiences with other activists.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

82A.1 Preston College

Add at end:

UCU courses are sometimes inconvenient and difficult and expensive to attend. TUC courses are often considered by branches to be more convenient to attend and get time off for. At present UCU does not pay expenses for officers to attend TUC courses. Conference calls upon UCU to pay expenses for officers to attend TUC courses.

CARRIED

82A.2 Coleg Gwent Newport

Remove last sentence beginning with Conference and replace with:

Congress calls upon UCU to provide on line training where feasible whilst recognising that traditional course delivery is always preferable for Union Reps. Regional Officers should support Branch Officials to negotiate sufficient facilities time to allow reps to attend relevant courses.

CARRIED

SUBSTANTIVE MOTION

The increasingly difficult educational environment in future will mean that, more than ever, UCU activists will need to be properly trained. While congratulating UCU on its excellent training programme, we have learned by experience that it is not always practicable for activists to exercise their legal right to the time off necessary to take full advantage of this programme. Conference therefore calls upon UCU to investigate the feasibility of providing as much training as possible online, including online discussion to facilitate exchange of experiences with other activists.

UCU courses are sometimes inconvenient and difficult and expensive to attend. TUC courses are often considered by branches to be more convenient to attend and get time off for. At present UCU does not pay expenses for officers to attend TUC courses. Conference calls upon UCU to pay expenses for officers to attend TUC courses.

Congress calls upon UCU to provide on line training where feasible whilst recognising that traditional course delivery is always preferable for Union Reps. Regional Officers should support Branch Officials to negotiate sufficient facilities time to allow reps to attend relevant courses.

After report paragraph 2.4 new section, UC magazine

83 Elected editorial board - Women members standing committee

Congress calls on NEC to establish an editorial board to oversee the functioning of UC magazine in its current electronic form. The purpose of the board inter alia will be to: ensure balanced representation of issues affecting UCU's self organised groups; a reasonable degree of gender balance among the contributors; and appropriate visual representation of the diversity of UCU membership. The board will also monitor the readership of UC magazine from time to time and make suggestions for reaching groups who appear not to be properly represented among the readership.

CARRIED

Under-represented groups (report paragraph 4.1)

84 A campaign for non-casualised employment - Anti-casualisation committee

Congress notes:

  1. issues facing staff on casualised (fixed-term, hourly-paid and agency) contracts: lack of consultation, precarious employment, zero hours contracts, low pay, unequal/no access to occupational pensions, poor working conditions
  2. that they are well placed to play a leading role recruiting and organising other workers on casualised contracts
  3. the usefulness of ensuring they are integrated into their local branches.

Congress calls on NEC to work with the Anti-Casualisation Committee to:

  1. call a national day of action to recruit staff on casualised contracts early in the autumn term and supply branches with packs of material for this
  2. next, organise a one-day organising/training conference for members on casualised contracts, with particular encouragement for new members to attend, to encourage them to play an active role in their branch and give support in raising casualisation issues
  3. encourage branches to pass examples of zero hours contracts to ACC.

CARRIED


85 In defence of the jobs of all members - National Executive Committee

Congress notes widespread job losses and threats to jobs among staff on casualised contracts in FE and HE, including agency staff and staff working for some large employers of staff of casualised contracts, such as the Open University.

Congress reaffirms the union's commitment to defending the jobs of all members including the jobs of those who are employed on casualised contracts.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

85A.1 North West regional committee

Add to end of first paragraph:

Congress also abhors the abuse of so called Voluntary Redundancies which is not genuine voluntarism. Congress notes the damage done to the service which intensifies workloads and damages standards.

CARRIED

SUBSTANTIVE MOTION

Congress notes widespread job losses and threats to jobs among staff on casualised contracts in FE and HE, including agency staff and staff working for some large employers of staff of casualised contracts, such as the Open University.

Congress reaffirms the union's commitment to defending the jobs of all members including the jobs of those who are employed on casualised contracts.

Congress also abhors the abuse of so called Voluntary Redundancies which is not genuine voluntarism. Congress notes the damage done to the service which intensifies workloads and damages standards.

Under-represented members (report paragraph 4.2)

86 Prison education and privatisation - The Manchester College Prisons Branch

Congress notes that once again members employed to deliver education, learning and skills to offenders in prisons are facing a change of employer as a result of the latest round of retendering.

Congress reiterates its objection to this constant change, which brings uncertainty and instability for staff not just in terms of a change in employer, but also to the work we do. In addition, every retendering round increases the risk of private companies taking over the work and promotes the staged privatisation of offender learning. This is demonstrated by the SFA awarding contracts for two regions (25 prisons) to A4e.

Congress reiterates its opposition to the constant re tendering and subsequent privatisation of prison education work and instructs the NEC to ensure that UCU's anti privatisation campaigning work also covers what happens to members employed to deliver education training and skills in prisons.

Challenging the market (report paragraph 6)

87 Opposition & strategy against outsourcing, shared services and restructuring - Academic-related staff committee

Following the Government announcement in November 2011 to implement the EU VAT cost-sharing exemption for shared services groups, and the Higher Education Minister's assertion that changes to the funding regime for HE means EU procurement rules for publicly funded bodies no longer apply, administrative, library and computing staff are under more threat that ever before. We need a clear strategy to oppose outsourcing, shared services and so-called restructuring across both the HE and FE sector and the impact these have on the jobs and working conditions of all staff.

Congress calls upon the NEC:

  1. to collect data relating to the outsourcing and sharing of all services across both sectors
  2. facilities for branches to access and share information as to where companies are already operating and what moves and language to look out for in our institutions.
  3. strategies for branches as to how these moves can be opposed.

CARRIED


88 Privatisation at the University of Essex - University of Essex

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Essex announced a consultation on the future of the International Academy on April 30. IA is multi-faceted academic department which offers both undergraduate and graduate pathway courses and pathway programmes. IA was the target of a privatisation bid by INTO University Partnerships in 2007 that was abandoned by the university during a robust campaign by UCU. The latest consultation once again recommends privatisation through the takeover of IA by a private partner.

Congress resolves that UCU will support members at Essex in their campaign against privatisation of IA.

CARRIED

Pensions disputes in further and higher education (report paragraph 7)

89 USS pensions - University of St Andrews

Congress notes:

  1. the minimal concessions made by employers in negotiations to date and their failure to guarantee maintaining their current level of funding;
  2. support of members for taking action short of a strike and strike action to oppose the attacks on their pension entitlements and in support of the right of colleagues employed after April 2011 to be part of the same pension scheme;
  3. inflated salary increases awarded to senior university officials that exploit their own entitlement to final salary pension schemes and the similarities to MPs who have not seen similar cuts to their unusually generous pension schemes.

Congress believes that the best generalised defence of public education and fair remuneration is via coordinated union activity.

Congress instructs UCU to incorporate plans for solidarity action across all sectors of the union into its campaign over changes to the Teachers' Pension Scheme.

CARRIED

Local disputes (report paragraph 12)

90 OU redundancies in Continental Europe and stalling of negotiations - Open University

Congress notes with deep concern the announcement of over 100 proposed redundancies of Open University staff in Continental Europe, for which the OU is citing as justification the need to avoid European employment law. Congress also notes the almost simultaneous suspension of the Framework assimilation negotiations in the OU which were to provide permanent contracts for around 7000 Open University Associate Lecturers.

Congress offers full support to the OU branch in avoiding redundancies, both in the UK and the rest of Europe, and in getting the OU management to return to the negotiation of an acceptable contract for its Associate Lecturers.

CARRIED


L7 Emergency motion on Salford University Dispute

Congress congratulates the Salford University membership on Friday's resounding ballot result (71% for strike action, 51% turn out) as another key stage in their struggle to preserve quality education provision and fight mass redundancies.

Congress recognizes that due to size and savagery of the assault, the Salford dispute is a test case for the UCU. We call on the national union to publicise the dispute and continue to provide maximum support to our Salford membership.

CARRIED

New section National Staff Satisfaction Survey  (after report paragraph 12.3)

91 National Staff Satisfaction Survey - University of Edinburgh

Congress proposes that there should be a UK-wide staff satisfaction
survey, along similar lines to the National Student Survey (NSS).

The NSS gives insight into the student experience and provides information allowing HEIs to identify and constructively address areas for improvement. A National Staff Survey could be used for similar ends.

By addressing broadly analogous topics to those addressed in the NSS through a staff 'lens,' such a survey could highlight conditions across all staff groups, encourage employers to strive to excel as 'Employers of Choice' and inform students whether staff are given adequate time to support high-quality education.

Congress recommends that the NEC consult branches about the issues to be covered. However, the survey should be designed and conducted by an independent body to ensure general trust in the findings (e.g. Ipsos MORI). Initially financed by UCU, the survey should eventually be funded jointly with other sector unions.

REMITTED

Last updated: 10 June 2012