Business of the Equality Committee

UCU Congress 2014: Friday 30 May 2014, 14:55-16.45

Section 6 of the NEC's report to Congress 2014:
UCU568.html | UCU568.rtf

Motions (private session):

62 - Strengthening equality and employment rights
63 - Progressing equality locally
64 - Points Based Immigration
65 - Opposition to racist, fascist, far-right parties
66 - Immigration and racism
67 - Black representation in UCU
68 - Austerity and racism
69 - Black deaths in custody
70 - Negotiating reasonable adjustments
71 - Supporting disabled members' participation and rights at work
72 - Advancing sexual orientation and gender identity equality in the workplace
73 - Female Genital Mutilation
74 - Tackling sexism on campus
75 - Intersectionality and equality structure

(EP) advisory marking
denoting UCU existing policy

Equality and employment rights, paragraph 2.1

62 Strengthening equality and employment rights - National Executive Committee

Congress is concerned at the severe changes to equality and employment rights. For example, the introduction of employment tribunal fees, the withdrawal of the equality questionnaire procedure and third party harassment provisions, weakening the role of the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the serious intent to further dilute the Public Sector Equality Duty.

These changes impact on us all but discrimination cases are more complex and difficult to prove so the added costs and withdrawal of supportive provisions makes success even more difficult.

In the run up to the General Election 2015, Congress calls on the NEC to:

  • provide briefings to branches on these issues to enable members to engage and influence the political debate
  • work with other trade unions to secure commitments from political parties to strengthen employment and equality rights
  • actively engage in the next review of the PSED.

CARRIED

Support for regions and branches, paragraph 3.1

63 Progressing equality locally - National Executive Committee

Congress condemns the coalition Government's intent to eradicate equality rights and its negative impact on branches' ability to progress equality locally.

Congress notes that many of our Employers have very bad practices on equality, including not using equality impact assessments and not taking the need for reasonably adjustments seriously.

It is important that branches are supported not only to ensure that employers comply with existing legal rights and duties but to enable them to negotiate improvements.

Congress calls on NEC to

  • identify branches to work with to progress best practice
  • disseminate best practice and also equip all branches with information and guidance on existing rights
  • survey branch equality reps to understand local challenges and concerns
  • ensure that equality agreements negotiated at the national level are implemented locally
  • develop collective approaches to progressing and implementing and equality issues, as this is where we are strongest.

CARRIED

Campaigning for equality, paragraphs 4.1 - 4.9

64 Points Based Immigration - National Executive Committee

Congress celebrates the contribution of international staff and students to HE and FE and condemns the attacks on them.

Congress condemns the various measures taken by institutions to regulate and report on international students and the fact that many of them interfere in the relationship between students and teaching staff.

Congress instructs NEC to:

  • carry out a survey to determine practice in different institutions
  • publicly name and shame institutions with bad practice
  • publicise any good practice (without praising the institutions)
  • revise guidance on PBI and circulate to members
  • campaign more actively together with other trade unions and interested organisations for the repeal of the legislation.

CARRIED


65 (EP) Composite: Opposition to racist, fascist, far-right parties - Barnsley College, University of Hertfordshire

Congress notes the recent resurgence and public confidence of far-right, fascist and racist groups nationally and across Europe. The votes gained by fascist parties across Europe, and the disturbing role of ultra nationalist groups in Ukraine and Russia are reminders of the need for the trade union movement to remain vigilant and committed to working with anti-fascist and anti-racist organisations.

Congress notes that such success has been born out of austerity measures and the demands of the international banking system that has put profit before people.

Congress notes that far-right parties in the UK have not enjoyed such success. The bankruptcy of the BNP and the break-up of the EDL leadership can be attributed to the unremitting campaigning of organisations such as the trade union movement and Unite Against Fascism who have confronted and opposed such groups whenever and wherever they appear in public. Congress applauds the work of these organisations and pledges its continuing support for their actions.

Congress notes the growing electoral successes of UKIP and calls upon UCU and the wider trade union movement to confront and expose the racism and xenophobia which lies behind this party's policies.

Congress congratulates all those involved in organising the Anti-Racism Day Demonstration on March 22nd in London and resolves to:

  1. reaffirm UCU's commitment to supporting and where necessary actively engaging with, anti-racist and anti-fascist organisations
  2. encourage all branches to forge links with anti-racist and anti-fascist organisations locally and regionally
  3. challenge statements made by public figures and the media which give credibility and strength to far-right arguments and promote scapegoating.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

65A.1 National Executive Committee

In para 3, second sentence, insert after 'Unite Against Fascism':

', Trades Union Friends of Searchlight, and Love Music, Hate Racism'

CARRIED

65A.2 LGBT Members' Standing Committee

At the end of paragraph 1, add: 'Conference notes the growth in homophobia/transphobia from far-right organisations, and the need for the trade union movement to challenge this also.'

At the end of paragraph 4, add: 'Congress notes UKIP members have been made overt and explicit homophobic/transphobic statements and commits to exposing and confronting these.'

At end of paragraph b, add: 'and with organisations which defend LGBT rights.'

CARRIED

65A.3 Barnsley College

Add at end:

d. produce national materials taking on the anti-immigrant and anti-immigration arguments put forward by Nigel Farage and his supporters and expose and confront the openly racist nature of the campaigning by UKIP members

e. call on UCU branches to work with NUS and other campus unions to campaign against UKIP activities on campuses.'

CARRIED

Substantive motion

Congress notes the recent resurgence and public confidence of far-right, fascist and racist groups nationally and across Europe. The votes gained by fascist parties across Europe, and the disturbing role of ultra nationalist groups in Ukraine and Russia are reminders of the need for the trade union movement to remain vigilant and committed to working with anti-fascist and anti-racist organisations. Conference notes the growth in homophobia/transphobia from far-right organisations, and the need for the trade union movement to challenge this also.

Congress notes that such success has been born out of austerity measures and the demands of the international banking system that has put profit before people.

Congress notes that far-right parties in the UK have not enjoyed such success. The bankruptcy of the BNP and the break-up of the EDL leadership can be attributed to the unremitting campaigning of organisations such as the trade union movement and Unite Against Fascism who have confronted and opposed such groups whenever and wherever they appear in public. Congress applauds the work of these organisations and pledges its continuing support for their actions.

Congress notes the growing electoral successes of UKIP and calls upon UCU and the wider trade union movement to confront and expose the racism and xenophobia which lies behind this party's policies. Congress notes UKIP members have been made overt and explicit homophobic/transphobic statements and commits to exposing and confronting these.

Congress congratulates all those involved in organising the Anti-Racism Day Demonstration on March 22nd in London and resolves to:

  1. reaffirm UCU's commitment to supporting and where necessary actively engaging with, anti-racist and anti-fascist organisations
  2. encourage all branches to forge links with anti-racist and anti-fascist organisations locally and regionally
  3. challenge statements made by public figures and the media which give credibility and strength to far-right arguments and promote scapegoating
  4. produce national materials taking on the anti-immigrant and anti-immigration arguments put forward by Nigel Farage and his supporters and expose and confront the openly racist nature of the campaigning by UKIP members
  5. call on UCU branches to work with NUS and other campus unions to campaign against UKIP activities on campuses.

After paragraph 4.9

66 Composite: Immigration and racism - UCU Wales Council, University of Aberdeen, Eastern & Home Counties Regional Committee, National Executive Committee,

UCU celebrates the presence of migrants and refugees and congratulates them on their amazing contributions to culture and society, particularly in education, research and the labour movement.

UCU condemns attacks on them by government and media, particularly the cap on international students and the 'migrants go home' vans.

Congress deplores Government attempts to demonise immigrants and blame them for failing and inadequate public services.

Congress believes that such scurrilous tactics are deliberately aimed at scapegoating minority groups to divert attention from the real causes of the economic crisis - greedy and irresponsible bankers.

The trade union movement has a long and proud tradition of resisting and fighting prejudice and discrimination.

As a teaching union, UCU believes that many of our students will face additional prejudice as a result of the Government's intolerant and stereo-typical attitude to immigration, and reaffirms its commitment to campaign against racism and bigotry.

UCU condemns the ill-informed arguments and xenophobic language used about migrant workers in the mainstream media and by the government.

UCU notes that academic research points to the positive economic contribution made by migrant workers.

UCU regrets the failure of the all mainstream parties to use the rigorous academic research available to counteract commonly accepted myths.

Congress notes:

  • the Coalition government is rushing the Immigration Bill through parliament
  • the Bill proposes reducing the right of migrants to appeal against deportation; compels workers to police the immigration status of others, and undermines the right to family life enshrined in the Human Rights Act.

Congress believes:

  • immigrants are contributors to public finances. The pressure on people's income and on public services is a result of austerity and employers' attacks on wages and conditions
  • pandering to anti-immigrant arguments normalises racism, helping fuel the growth of right-wing political forces
  • campaigns such as Movement Against Xenophobia (MAX) are necessary to counter the scapegoating of immigrants.

Congress resolves:

  • to oppose the Immigration Bill and call on MPs to vote against it
  • to call on the Labour party and future UK and/or Scottish governments to undertake to repeal it
  • to affiliate to MAX and support its initiatives.

Congress instructs NEC to:

  • issue public statements, when appropriate, celebrating the diversity of students and staff in colleges and universities and celebrating the economic and cultural contribution of migrants and refugees and reissue appropriately modified versions whenever there is an attack
  • draw on the expertise of our members who are migration specialists to produce a short fact sheet for members which dispels the myths on migrant workers. Further, Congress also instructs the UCU to consider affiliating to campaigns against xenophobia
  • produce a resource pack for teaching and general campaigning, on:
  1. the invaluable contribution of migrants and refugees to society, particularly in education, research and labour movement
  2. the importance of internationalism for education and research
  3. the value of academic and cultural exchanges and cultural diversity
  4. emigration from UK
  • step up the campaign for repeal of the cap on overseas student numbers
  • work with other organisations to overturn racist immigration policy.

CARRIED

Equality for black members, paragraphs 5.3 - 5.5

67 Black representation in UCU - Black Members' Standing Committee

Congress notes that the numbers of black members within UCU structures has fallen over the years. Black members have either not come forward or are finding involvement in the democratic structures of the union to be an increasing irrelevance. Black activism is also declining. In regional councils and branch committees the situation is depressingly similar. As a consequence issues affecting black members are not raised or discussed at branch and regional levels. The Union must address this issue urgently. Conference strongly recommends that

Congress instructs the NEC to ensure that:

  • each branch should make an effort to send a black delegate to their region
  • each region should have at least one black member on its committee and seek to co-opt if no branch submits a black representative
  • a progress report on the above is sent to UCU Congress 2015.

CARRIED


68 (EP) Austerity and racism - College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London

Congress notes:

  1. the austerity policies that are making workers pay for the crisis
  2. the disproportionate effect of austerity cuts on BME workers, including in our colleges and universities
  3. the successful struggle against attacks on terms and conditions of BME cleaners at our college, and the ongoing struggles of low-paid BME workers in many other institutions.

Congress believes:

  1. that these attacks are part of a racist agenda to blame migrant workers and BME communities for the crisis
  2. that it is in the interest of all workers to oppose this divide-and-rule agenda.

Congress resolves:

  1. that UCU should work with other unions to fight attacks on the terms and conditions of BME workers, including taking co-ordinated industrial action
  2. that UCU should work to ensure that no worker in our institutions is paid less than the living wage.

CARRIED

After paragraph 5.5

69 Black deaths in custody - Black Members' Standing Committee

Congress deplores the continuing deaths of black people in prison and police custody, in young offenders' institutions during arrest or detention under the Mental Health Act. Congress believes that it is not acceptable for police and prison officers to be unaccountable to the communities that they serve. Deaths in custody are an issue of concern for all trade unionists - because what happens in Tottenham or Luton or Winson Green today can happen to any one of us tomorrow.

Congress agrees to:

  • campaign to ensure that police and prison officers wear cameras at all times when making an arrest and/or restraining suspects
  • campaign to ensure that close family members are informed immediately after someone has been arrested and/or detained
  • affiliate to the United Family and Friends Campaign and support the annual procession of remembrance
  • circulate campaign calls and information from UFFC to all UCU members.

CARRIED

Equality for disabled members, paragraph 6.3

70 Negotiating reasonable adjustments - Disabled Members' Standing Committee

Congress notes the UCU guidance on reasonable adjustments produced last year and how it provides practical support for reps and members in understanding and negotiating adjustments. Negotiating adjustments has always been difficult with employers avoiding their duty to even consider a request. Members are often subject to open ended discussions with a focus on costs rather than positively engaging with the request. Members can often feel isolated and 'unreasonable' in their right to be treated more favourably in order to  mitigate the effect of being disabled by their working environment.

Congress calls upon the NEC to:

  • disseminate and publicise the guidance and ask branches for feedback
  • organise briefing sessions for reps which will include the requirements of the duty, recent case law, the test of 'reasonableness', negotiating checklist and how to take the issue forward as a collective issue
  • monitor employer policies and training of managers.

CARRIED

After paragraph 6.4

71 Supporting disabled members' participation and rights at work - Disabled Members' Standing Committee

Congress notes the low disclosure rates of disabled members at work and within UCU. This will be for various reasons but  lack of confidence in how the data will be used is a major reason. Without disclosure disabled members reduce their legal rights and their collective strength.  Evidence shows the biggest group needing representation by UCU caseworkers are disabled members. Disabled members' issues need to be raised collectively so problems are not an individual's fight but are a demand for an  institution or sector wide response. Congress calls upon the NEC to

  • survey self identified disabled members on workplace concerns
  • survey equality reps for views on non disclosure and progressing  disabled workers equality locally
  • work with national negotiators to progress disability leave in HE and the FE equality agreement
  • identify two or three branches to work with on progressing best practice on disabled members' issues.

CARRIED

Equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) members, paragraph 7.2

72 (EP) Advancing sexual orientation and gender identity equality in the workplace - LGBT Members' Standing Committee

Congress notes the survey 'The Ups and Downs of LGB's Workplace' launched on 30 January 2014. This, the first ever large scale national survey of bullying and harassment faced by LGB workers, it found that LGB workers are more than twice as likely to be bullied or face discrimination. Whilst the survey did not consider the experiences of trans workers, it is unfortunately all too likely that they face similar problems to a greater extent

The survey reveals that homophobic and biphobic stereotypes persist in the workplace affecting our job security and wellbeing. It highlights inadequate management, LGBT staff network and trade union representative responses to bullying and harassment.

  1. conference calls on all UCU branches to tackle the problems caused by persisting homophobia, bi phobia, transphobia, underlying heterosexism and gender binary prejudice, at work
  2. conference urges all members to educate and organise all workers to deal with these.

CARRIED

Equality for women members, paragraphs 8.3 - 8.4

73 Female Genital Mutilation - Women Members' Standing Committee

Congress recognises FGM as a form of gendered abuse affecting an estimated 140 million women globally. We offer solidarity to its victims.

In colleges and universities both staff and students are affected. Many women and girls are unable to seek protection and help because of ignorance and prejudice surrounding the issue, including: Islamophobic or racist notions about the practice; a belief that FGM is a personal or cultural issue and a lack of sensitive, helpful support to victims/girls under threat.

Congress calls on the government to fund meaningful support for women, including:

  • ensuring protection for girls under threat
  • funding health services, housing and benefits for victims
  • granting asylum where needed.

Congress calls for UCU strategy to include

  • working to include FGM in safeguarding
  • production of education materials & advice/support for members
  • working with FGM projects that do not reinforce racist ideas about FGM.

74 Tackling sexism on campus - UCU Scotland Executive Committee

That this congress notes:

  • the importance of ensuring university and college campuses are welcoming, safe environments for staff, students and visitors.
  • press reports highlighting an unwelcome 'laddish culture' existing on some campuses
  • the government-commissioned Sexualisation of Young People Review which found: 'lads' mags promote an idea of male sexuality as based on power and aggression, depicting women as sex objects and including articles that feature strategies for manipulating women.'...'The evidence gathered suggests a clear link between consumption of sexualised images, a tendency to view women as objects and the acceptance of aggressive attitudes and behaviour as the norm.'

This congress believes that steps should be taken to ensure that equality and diversity is enshrined within all post-16 education institutions, and supports the positive work already undertaken in some institutions. Congress supports the campaign to seek to remove all 'lads mags' from sale in university, college and student union shops.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

74A.1 LGBT Members' Standing Committee

Add 'and Heterosexism' to the title after 'Sexism'

In final paragraph add: ', in combating and eliminating racism, sexism, homophobia & transphobia' to the end of the first sentence. At end of motion add ', as these undermine and demean many of our principles of equality.'

CARRIED

Substantive motion

That this congress notes:

  • the importance of ensuring university and college campuses are welcoming, safe environments for staff, students and visitors.
  • press reports highlighting an unwelcome 'laddish culture' existing on some campuses
  • the government-commissioned Sexualisation of Young People Review which found: 'lads' mags promote an idea of male sexuality as based on power and aggression, depicting women as sex objects and including articles that feature strategies for manipulating women.'...'The evidence gathered suggests a clear link between consumption of sexualised images, a tendency to view women as objects and the acceptance of aggressive attitudes and behaviour as the norm.'

This congress believes that steps should be taken to ensure that equality and diversity is enshrined within all post-16 education institutions, and supports the positive work already undertaken in some institutions, in combating and eliminating racism, sexism, homophobia & transphobia. Congress supports the campaign to seek to remove all 'lads mags' from sale in university, college and student union shops, as these undermine and demean many of our principles of equality.

New paragraph, equality structures, after paragraph 9.1

75 Intersectionality and equality structure - West Midlands Regional Council

Following reductions to the budget for equality representation, a new conference where all four equality strands meet simultaneously has replaced the former separate conference. The impact of this is that those who are disadvantaged by multiple forms of oppression are now:

  • less able to participate in the annual conference, share support, and propose and debate essential equality business
  • less likely to be elected to represent and take part in decision making on the national equalities committees.

Congress resolves to:

  1. ensure equality arrangements allow full participation for those who are oppressed in multiple ways
  2. monitor future equalities arrangements to ensure UCU embodies the fairness we pursue as activists by making sure participation for those oppressed in multiple ways is always considered primary.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

75A.1 West Midlands Retired Members' Branch

Add at the end of point 1): 'including age-related oppression.'

CARRIED

Substantive motion

Following reductions to the budget for equality representation, a new conference where all four equality strands meet simultaneously has replaced the former separate conference. The impact of this is that those who are disadvantaged by multiple forms of oppression are now:

  • less able to participate in the annual conference, share support, and propose and debate essential equality business
  • less likely to be elected to represent and take part in decision making on the national equalities committees.

Congress resolves to:

  1. ensure equality arrangements allow full participation for those who are oppressed in multiple ways including age-related oppression
  2. monitor future equalities arrangements to ensure UCU embodies the fairness we pursue as activists by making sure participation for those oppressed in multiple ways is always considered primary.
Last updated: 30 May 2014