Business of the Equality Committee

UCU Congress 2018: Wednesday 30 May 2018, 15:00-16:30

Motions have been allocated to a section of the NEC's report to Congress (UCU857). Paragraph headings refer to paragraphs within this report. CBC has added some new paragraph headings to facilitate the ordering of motions.

19 - Progressing equality in our workplaces
20 - Intersectionality
21 - Disciplinary procedures and mental health
22 - Composite: Resisting the growth of European far right and fascist organisations and Football Lads Alliance (FLA)
L2 - Tackling racism within colleges and universities
23 - Wearing of the hijab
24 - Maternity pay for casualised staff in post-16 education
25 - Sexual harassment
26 - Composite: Combatting domestic abuse and violence against women
27 - The fight for equality of access to work
28 - Medical cannabis
29 - LGBT+ perspectives and presence in education
30 - Global awareness of history and current struggle
31 - Transgender rights
32 - Antisemitism, Anti-Zionism, and the Defence of Jeremy Corbyn
L5 - referendum to repeal the 8th

(EP) advisory marking denoting UCU existing policy

Equality and employment rights, paragraph 2.1

19  Progressing equality in our workplaces - National Executive Committee

Congress commends progress made by the equality committee during 2017/18 in its work on challenging sexual harassment, parents' rights at work guidance, the disability toolkit 'David's story', the gender identity and sexual orientation guidance and survey and the continued success of day of action against racism.

Congress further commends the input and advice from the equality standing committees, the equality conference and the equality reps conference which help shape and develop our strategies and approach to delivering more equal workplaces. It is recognised by all national UCU equality bodies that branches need more support and advice in furthering equality.

Congress supports the committee in continuing to focus on these issues by working with branches as well as influencing and changing the government and public narrative that informs our equality rights and the culture we all have to live and work in.

20  Intersectionality - Women Members' Standing Committee

As a union, we are committed to ensuring equality, fairness and justice for all members. In order to achieve this, there needs to be a recognition of the ways in which different strands of identity and oppression intersect. People are not neatly compartmentalised into separate boxes and it is vital that platforms are available for all. For true solidarity, we need to be speaking to and with each other and acknowledging and celebrating our intersectional differences. Our work needs to be framed with intersectionality in order to avoid tokenism and fragmentation. Identity politics does not fragment, inequality and oppression do.

Congress calls on NEC to:

  1. provide training and education about intersectionality
  2. approach campaigns and struggles through an intersectional lens
  3. maintain the spirit of intersectionality as set out by Kimberele Crenshaw (1989) and avoid neoliberal interpretations.

20A.1   LGBT Members' Standing Committee

Insert as a new penultimate sentence of the first paragraph, in between the words 'fragmentation.' and 'Identity':

'Intersectionality as a tool enables understanding and helps reflect complexities inherent in experiences.'

Add new bullet points after 'Congress calls ..':

  1. ensure all work is framed by intersectionality thereby exploring equality dimensions, seen and unseen, including class, diversity of gender and sexual identities, neurodiversity and race
  2. utilise organising histories and contemporary understandings within LGBT+ communities informing how an intersectional lens enables vocalisation of diverse experiences.
  3. review UCU structures using the lens of intersectionality and make suggestions for improving practice.

21  Disciplinary procedures and mental health - London Metropolitan University

The social model states that a person becomes disabled by the environmental and attitudinal barriers that they encounter, not by their medical condition. Mental health issues are exacerbated severely by a bullying, punitive, corporate style of management and by redundancy procedures. Reps have to deal with members in states of severe depression, suicidal ideation or situations of extreme stress especially when undergoing disciplinary and capability procedures. Although universities and colleges provide student mental health support, and UCU provides training on mental health in the workplace, there needs to be more provision.

Congress asks that:

  1. UCU provides more training and counselling support to members and their reps in extreme situations
  2. UCU campaigns for mental health first aiders available on all university and college sites and that mental health issues are not stigmatised
  3. UCU campaigns for institutions to provide regular adequate risk assessments for mental health of staff across the sectors.

21A.1   University of Manchester


4. UCU should further encourage its members, universities and colleges to be open about mental illness and health when and where ever possible so as to change taboos, myths and prejudice.

21A.2   Birkbeck, University of London

Add at end:

4. UCU campaigns for universities and colleges to establish local networks for staff with lived experience of mental health conditions and ensures the networks are centrally involved in key decisions (such as recruitment of counsellors) and policy development.

5. UCU seeks advice on mental health from established service user-led groups such as the National Survivor User Network.

Campaigning for equality, paragraphs 3.1 - 3.7

22  (EP) Composite: Resisting the growth of European far right and fascist organisations and Football Lads Alliance (FLA) - West Midlands Regional Committee, Yorkshire and Humberside Regional Committee, University of Leeds

Congress notes:

  1. several thousand Football Lads Alliance supporters marched in London last October, including a big racist and far right element, led by ex-EDL leader Tommy Robinson, and with planned marches in Birmingham and elsewhere
  2. FLA marchers threw bottles, beer cans and coins at SUTR protesters. An SUTR protestor was called a 'Black bastard'
  3. the march for a 'white Europe' by up to 60,000 fascists and nationalists in Warsaw in November 2017
  4. the new Polish law criminalising criticism of Polish wartime collaboration with the Nazis
  5. the election of dozens of fascists and Nazi sympathisers to the German parliament after the last election
  6. the growth and recent electoral successes of far-right and fascist parties in Hungary, Germany (AFD) with 93 MPs, Austria, the Czech Republic, Italy and the Front National in France (FN)
  7. the push from the right to commemorate the legacy of Enoch Powell's speech in the Midlands on the anniversary of his Rivers of Blood speech.

Congress believes:

  1. these dangerous trends are fuelled by anti-migrant Fortress Europe policies promoted by European governments and Europe-wide austerity measures hitting workers and the vulnerable
  2. the British trade union movement's role in pushing the BNP and EDL to the point of extinction
  3. fascists use vehicles like the FLA to grow.

Congress reiterates UCU's commitment to opposing the growth of racism and fascism and to encouraging local branches to work with student unions, other campus unions, and other organisations such as Unite Against Fascism and Stand Up to Racism.

Congress resolves:

  1. to support Stand Up to Racism initiatives to further expose racist and fascist elements of the FLA
  2. to support Stand Up to Racism, Show Racism the Red Card and other fan-based anti-racist initiatives which fight racism in the clubs and football grounds
  3. to encourage members to join the Unite Against Fascism visit to Auschwitz in November.

L2  Tackling racism within colleges and universities - National executive committee

Congress notes that on 1 May 2018, Exeter University expelled a number of students for "unacceptable racist, sexist and bigoted behaviour".

Recent events at Exeter and also at Nottingham Trent where a student recorded people chanting "we hate the blacks" outside her room have highlighted that the situation for black students is becoming intolerable.

Congress believes that colleges and universities have a responsibility and a duty of care to all students, and that the learning experience of black students is being undermined because of such open racist hostility.

Congress further believes that institutions must abide by their obligations under the General Duty of the Public Sector Equality Duty to foster good relations and eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation.

Congress resolves to:

  1. work with the NUS to ensure complaints of discriminatory behaviour are dealt with adequately
  2. ensure that colleges and universities meet their Public Sector Equality Duty obligations in full.

23  (EP) Wearing of the hijab - National Executive Committee

Congress notes:

  1. the announcement that Ofsted inspectors will question primary school girls wearing the hijab
  2. the Sunday Times campaign to ban the hijab in primary schools
  3. the decision by St Stephen's school in East London to ban wearing the hijab by girls aged 8 and under. St Stephens also called for the government to override school autonomy on uniform.

Congress believes these are very worrying developments.

Congress further notes although St Stephen's reversed its decision, the hijab issue is central to the growth of Islamophobia globally. We have seen Donald Trump's 'Muslim ban' and the 'Burka ban' in France. The majority of targets of anti-Muslim hate crimes in Britain are women and girls. Those wearing the hijab, niqab or robe are disproportionately targeted.

Congress opposes discriminatory targeting of Muslims on the basis of dress, including bans on the hijab or questioning of Muslim students by Ofsted inspectors.

23A.1   Redbridge College, University of Brighton (Grand Parade)

Under Congress notes add: Congress congratulates the recent NEU (NUT section) conference for its robust resistance to any proposed restrictions on pupils wearing the hijab and the prospect of Ofsted inspectors questioning Muslim girls on this matter.

24  Maternity pay for casualised staff in post-16 education - National Executive Committee

Women on casualised contracts experience huge detriments in their terms and conditions including maternity provision. Casualised lecturers work usually in term time and for less pay than their permanent comparators. The qualifying conditions for statutory maternity pay and leave has a detrimental impact on their ability to access support at a time when it is most needed. Employers' own maternity pay and leave policies could help to eradicate this issue.

Congress resolves to:

  1. work with Maternity Action and Working Families to campaign for a maternity framework for all parents regardless of contract status
  2. use the guide 'Working Parents' as an opportunity to raise awareness and produce additional guidance
  3. survey branches for information about the impact of the statutory framework and local policies including access to shared parental leave
  4. raise this issue with universities and colleges and to review their local maternity policies.

25  Sexual harassment - Women Members' Standing Committee

Sexual harassment has received growing media coverage recently, running through our political organisations,entertainment industries, universities and colleges and our trade union movement. UCU is working with the Students Union and 1752 group to address this producing far reaching policy complemented by branch training/hotline. UCU's survey revealed sexual harassment as a serious unspoken problem, embedded within predominantly male white power structures. We need to change this culture.

Congress resolves to:

  1. encourage and help universities to organise workshops on dignity and respect at work for staff and students
  2. organise a #metoo campaign across our colleges and universities and produce a series of posters, stickers and badges which state 'no to sexual harassment'
  3. provide training for reps supporting victims of abuse
  4. guidance concerning cases brought against UCU reps
  5. training and support for reps and for members who come forward, especially the casualised and PhD students who risk losing out for speaking out.

25A.1   University of Sheffield

In the first paragraph delete 'unspoken' and replace with 'unacknowledged'.

Delete 'resolves' 1.

Insert: Encourage UCU branches to organise workshops and meetings around the issue of sexual harassment and to campaign for institutions to develop bespoke policies on sexual harassment and staff-student relationships, in line with 1752 group recommendations.

26  Composite: Combatting domestic abuse and violence against women - Glasgow Caledonian University, UCU Scotland

Congress recognises that domestic abuse is an issue which affects staff and students in the HE, FE and ACE sectors of post-16 education irrespective of class, race, or gender, and welcomes legislative steps to eliminate all elements of this. Congress notes and supports the Domestic Abuse Bill recently passed by the Scottish Parliament which recognises the concept of coercive control as a crucial element used by the perpetrators of abuse. Congress welcomes the Scottish Government's commitment to tackling violence against women by supporting the NUS Scotland campaign against violence against women on campus.

Congress also welcomes universities which have prioritised the elimination of gender-based violence on campus.

UCU endorses the Scottish Government's recognition of the need to address all forms of violence against women as part of a coherent analysis of gender-based power, and encourages UCU branches to support local campaigns to tackle gender-based violence that adopt this approach.

Congress asks the union to ensure that current advice to members regarding domestic abuse should draw on best practice in all different jurisdictions of the UK to ensure that our advice to members is relevant, up to date, effective and practical.

26A.1   Women Members' Standing Committee

In the second sentence delete 'irrespective of' and replace with 'and is not dependent on'.

Add at the end of the last sentence, 'Targeted advice should be given to casualised female workers who often suffer in silence, have low confidence in unions or management to protect them; risk losing work for speaking out and who cannot take required time off to recover or escape their perpetrators as implied by the Istanbul convention'.

Disabled members, paragraphs 5.1 - 5.7

27  The fight for equality of access to work - Disabled Members' Standing Committee

Congress notes:

  1. only 47% of working age disabled adults are in work, compared to 76.4% of non disabled adults
  2. disabled people's equality of access to work paying a living wage, is frustrated because of the structural inequality of our society
  3. universities and colleges should endeavour to remove barriers to work to ensure workplaces are accessible to all disabled staff
  4. a lack of reasonable adjustments for disabled workers is a major barrier to maintaining employment.

Congress resolves to:

  1. ensure UCU supports disabled staff in negotiating and implementing reasonable adjustments through training and guidance
  2. work with other unions and disabled people's organisations to campaign for the extension of equality legislation to introduce a time limit for making needed adjustments
  3. use the Day of Action on Disability to focus on issues around access and implementation of reasonable adjustments.

Congress urges every branch to participate in the day of action.

27A.1   Anti-casualisation Committee

After guidance at the end of a. add 'recognising the difficulties casualised staff face in getting reasonable adjustments, due to their inferior contractual situation, lack of voice or disclosure exacerbated by their precarious status'.

28  Medical cannabis - Disabled members standing committee

Cannabis as a medicine provides effective relief for chronic conditions including chronic pain and multiple sclerosis. The MS Society announced there is sufficient evidence of its effectiveness. Many disabled people use cannabis illegally to help alleviate a condition or issue.

Countries including Portugal, Spain, Canada, and several states in the USA have decriminalised it. In the UK cannabis possession can lead to a 5-year sentence.

Sativex is a cannabis based medicine which is licenced in the UK for MS. It is not available on the NHS and is only available on private prescription, costing over £400 per month.

Cannabis could support a disabled person staying in employment.

Congress calls on the NEC to:

  1. work with other organisations to campaign for the legalisation of possession, supply and cultivation of medical cannabis within the UK
  2. to campaign for Sativex and other cannabis based medicines' availability on the NHS.

Equality for LGBT members, paragraphs 6.1 - 6.8

29  LGBT+ perspectives and presence in education - LGBT Members' Standing Committee

There have been some moves toward including diverse voices in learning materials in FE and HE curricula. However, the role played by curricula and disciplinary canons in reasserting and reproducing differential power relations and Western-centric paradigms continues.

Congress believes that:

  1. the diverse voices of LGBT+ and other equality groups should be integral to education including in the classroom and in research
  2. learning is an emancipatory practice, whatever the field
  3. emancipation doesn't simply come through inclusion or assimilation into curricula or disciplinary canons.

Congress asks NEC to:

  1. take an active role in reimagining educational institutions and reflecting on how they maintain social hierarchies
  2. organise a collection of educational resources promoting LGBT+ visibility across post-school education
  3. promote LGBT+ research including through the biennial UCU LGBT+ research conference
  4. create a database of people working in LGBT+ studies
  5. with NUS articulate strategies to decolonise the curriculum.

30  (EP) Global awareness of history and current struggle - LGBT Members' Standing Committee

Congress commends close partnership working of UCU and Amnesty International, including:

  1. the case of Giulio Regeni, a PhD student killed whilst working in Egypt
  2. UCU LGBT+ action supporting Amnesty campaigns e.g. reported abduction and murder of gay men in Chechnya.

Congress notes that:

  1. progressing equality isn't simple e.g. the recent repeal of the laws on same-sex marriage in Bermuda. Hard-fought gains can be overturned. We must be on-guard.
  2. we must maintain acute awareness of the history of struggle. Recent backlash against trans visibility has mirrored actions around section 28.

Congress reaffirms

  1. that equality and liberation are at the forefront of our work
  2. commitment to ongoing work with organisations and campaigns particularly Amnesty International and LGBT History Month.

Congress calls for development and implementation of strategic actions promoting gender identity and broader intersectional LGBT+ equality based on UCU LGBT+ survey findings, including regional networks.

31  Transgender rights - Halesowen College

Congress notes that:

  1. trans people, staff and students in FE and HE, face considerable hostility and discrimination
  2. in 2017 the government announced a consultation on the 2004 Gender Recognition Act, which currently involves a medicalised process to obtain a gender recognition certificate involving a diagnosis of 'gender dysphoria', and living as the desired gender for at least two years
  3. trans organisations have proposed changes to obtain a gender recognition certificate through self-declaration, as currently in Denmark, Ireland and Malta.

Congress further notes the government has delayed the consultation after a sustained anti-transgender press campaign.

Congress resolves to:

  1. oppose any moves to delay or abandon the consultation over changes to the GRA
  2. support the proposed amendments and make a submission to the consultation on this basis
  3. promote trans equality in the workplace and encourage branches to commemorate Transgender Day of Remembrance each November.

32  Antisemitism, Anti-Zionism, and the Defence of Jeremy Corbyn - University of Brighton (Grand Parade)

Congress notes:

  1. scurrilous, orchestrated, continuing attacks on Jeremy Corbyn, and recent expulsion of Mark Wadsworth from the Labour Party
  2. both are committed, lifelong anti-racists, and opponents of antisemitism
  3. no form of racism is tolerable in any part of the labour movement, including antisemitic imagery or Holocaust denial
  4. the 'anti-Corbyn campaign' conflates antisemitism with anti-Zionism, and obscures the threat of real antisemitism
  5. the Tory activist tweet: 'It's an actual stroke of genius we've been able to pull this off, perfect timing heading into the elections too'.

Congress believes the campaign:

  1. affects the whole labour movement, including unaffiliated unions
  2. is designed to prevent an anti-austerity government whose leadership is critical of Israel
  3. is a thinly-veiled attack on Palestine solidarity and BDS.

Congress resolves:

  1. General Secretary will write to Corbyn and Wadsworth expressing solidarity, and issue a press statement
  2. President will urgently communicate to members policy on anti-Corbyn campaign, Palestine, antisemitism and anti-Zionism.

32A.1  National executive committee

In point 1, delete ', and recent expulsion of Mark Wadsworth from the Labour Party' and add ', who is a committed, lifelong anti-racist and opponent of antisemitism';

Delete point 2 and replace with 'the recent statement by Jeremy Corbyn on eradicating antisemitism in the Labour Party  ('

In point i. under Congress resolves, delete 'and Wadsworth' and add after 'solidarity': 'with his statement on antisemitism'.

L5  Emergency motion - referendum to repeal the 8th

Congress notes the Republic of Ireland has voted overwhelmingly to overturn the abortion ban, by 66.4% to 33.6%.

Congress believes the scale of the majority and what it means about attitudes to women and their lives is totally inspiring and moving.

Congress sends congratulations to the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment, the #hometovoters and everyone who knocked on doors, leafleted and fought, in some cases for decades, to make this absolutely historic result possible.

Last updated: 31 May 2018