Motion on Unite UCU Industrial Dispute and the BMSC

At its annual general meeting on 26 June, the UCU branch at the University of Nottingham registered its dismay about how UCU management has handled the industrial dispute with its staff organised within Unite. In full solidarity with Unite members, the following motion was passed by an overwhelming majority with no votes against and only a few abstentions.

Motion on Unite UCU Industrial Dispute and the BMSC

This branch notes:

  • Strong allegations about institutional racism within UCU expressed by Unite UCU and the Black Member Standing Committee (BMSC);
  • Concerns that workload for UCU staff exceeds safe levels and sickness absence rates are as high as 40%;
  • UCU’s breach of its recognition agreement with Unite by recognising an additional trade union;
  • Further equality related concerns affecting staff and members.

This branch believes:

  • That as a trade union UCU must be a model employer;
  • That UCU employees deserve a safe and healthy workplace, free from racism and other forms of discrimination;
  • That an ongoing industrial dispute is unacceptable for any trade union employer;
  • That the ongoing industrial dispute is highly disruptive to our union’s day-to-day functioning;
  • That the ongoing industrial dispute is damaging to our legitimacy when making claims to our own employers.

This branch resolves:

  • To express solidarity with Unite UCU and the BMSC;
  • To donate £500 to the Unite UCU solidarity fund;
  • To instruct branch committee to write to the General Secretary and President demanding in the strongest terms possible a swift resolution to the dispute in the interest of UCU staff as well as to the concerns expressed by the BMSC.

Notice of Annual General Meeting (26th June) and invitation to join Branch Committee alongside regional and national roles

The University of Nottingham UCU Branch Annual General Meeting (AGM) will take place online at 1pm on Wednesday 26 June (Zoom link to follow in members email).

The AGM is the venue for you as members to approve (or reject) individuals to serve as Officers and ordinary Branch Committee members for 2024/25.

Every post in the list below is now open for nominations – please consider putting yourself forward!

New people bring new thinking, which is essential for the Committee to continue to support members effectively. Where existing Committee members would like to continue for another academic year, they will also require approval from the AGM.

If you are interested in joining the Branch Committee but want to get a feel for what it’s like first, or otherwise have questions about any of branch, regional or national roles listed below, please email uonucubranch@gmail.com. Someone from the current Committee will be happy to have an informal chat. You can also Brief descriptions of Officer roles also appear in section 8 of the Branch Rules.

To put yourself forward for a post, please email our Returning Officer, Kitty Howarth (khowarth@ucu.org.uk), cc Tony Simmonds, Branch Secretary (tonysucu@yahoo.com).

Branch Rules require that each nominee must be backed in writing by two other members, who should confirm their support by emailing to the same addresses.

The deadline for receipt of nominations and messages of support will be 5pm on Friday 24 May.

If there is more than one candidate for an Officer vacancy, or more candidates than there are vacancies for ordinary members of the committee, a ballot of members of the Branch will be conducted. The results of any ballots will be announced at the AGM.

The list of Branch Committee posts to be filled:

  • President
  • Vice-President
  • Secretary
  • Treasurer
  • Membership Secretary
  • Anti-casualisation Officer
  • APM Officer
  • Casework Coordinator
  • Communications Officer
  • Equality Officer
  • Green / Environment Officer
  • Health & Safety Officer
  • Workload Officer
  • Pensions Officer
  • Women’s Officer
  • Ordinary committee members (i.e. members without portfolio)

We also welcome expressions of interest in the following regional and national representative roles:

  • UCU East Midlands Regional Council Representative
  • UCU Branch Delegate Meeting Delegate
  • UCU Congress Delegate
  • UCU Equality Standing Committees
  • UCU Special Sector Conference Delegate
  • Nottingham Trades Council Delegate

University of Nottingham management taking its own students to Court: Not in our name!

The University and College Union (UCU) branch at the University of Nottingham condemns in the strongest terms possible the University Executive Board’s attempt to evict the student encampment from campus. The students have protested peacefully, highlighting the university’s involvement with the arms trade and the connections with Israel’s onslaught on Gaza. They have neither occupied any buildings nor have they disrupted day to-day activities of the University.

Taking these students to Court is an obvious clash with the University’s moral and legal responsibility to protect freedom of speech and provide space for peaceful protest to members of its community.

While there are many similar encampments at other universities across the UK, it is our management, which has taken this unprovoked step without any prior attempt to engage constructively with the students and their demands.

Such actions by the University Executive Board are shameful and undermine the values and missions of this University. Not in our name!

More information

Prof. Andreas Bieler, UCU President at UoN

Andreas.Bieler@nottingham.ac.uk

Solidarity with UoN students in view of eviction threat by management!

This is a version of an email sent to UCU members at the University of Nottingham on Thursday 16th May.

Dear UCU members,
Even though the student encampment on Jubilee campus in support of Palestine has been entirely peaceful, UoN management has moved towards their eviction. In response, I have written today to the VC on behalf of the UCU committee urging management to reconsider their approach to our students (see underneath this message).

The Court hearing will take place tomorrow morning [Friday 17th May] at 11.30 a.m. at Birmingham Civil Justice, Birmingham District Registry, King’s Bench Division, Priory Courts, 33 Bull Street, Birmingham, B4 6DS. If you happen to be close or can make the time, please go there in support of our students.

Finally, there is currently an online petition organised by staff [full text below]. The committee strongly encourages you to sign. [At time of posting, over 150 UoN staff have signed the original petition.]

Committee email to VC, 16 May

Dear Vice Chancellor,

It is with great dismay that we have learned that yesterday the University served the student encampment – which UoN itself pointed out as being peaceful (see https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/currentstudents/news/conflict-in-israel-and-gaza-accessing-support) – with papers as a first step towards their eviction. And this without even having attempted to engage constructively with the students and their demands. Considering that yesterday marked the anniversary of the Nakba, when 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes 76 years ago, management could not have chosen a more inopportune moment.

We would like to remind you that the encampment has neither occupied any buildings, nor has it obstructed the normal functioning of day-to-day University business. We therefore urge you to reflect carefully on management’s next steps and whether a constructive dialogue, similar to what has happened at other UK universities, may not be preferable over the application of brute force and the high financial costs this involves.

We also note that similar concerns have already been brought to your attention by staff in the Department of Philosophy with other parts of the university likely to follow.

We have to be clear that should management choose a course of confrontation with the encampment, we as UCU UoN would be left with no alternative but to speak up and condemn this course publicly.

Yours, Andreas (on behalf of the UCU Committee at UoN)

Statement regarding the peaceful protest encampment at the University of Nottingham

As members of staff at the University of Nottingham, we believe that the freedom to protest is essential to our democracy. The right to protest should be respected and protected, especially by institutions such as universities.

Currently, students are engaged in peaceful protest on university campuses across the UK, including an encampment at the University of Nottingham. We are concerned that some universities are not upholding these students’ democratic rights.

The University of Nottingham camp is positioned intentionally such that it does not interfere with the normal use of the university. Students, lecturers and other staff are able to go to work and class without interference. They are friendly, approachable and communal. They are conscientious about safety, tidiness, waste, and hygiene.

The students are a credit to the university. They display the very principles that a university education should be working to instil in students: conscientiousness, passion, the active pursuit of social justice, the advancement of the human condition and a commitment to improving health and wellbeing of all people, wherever they are in the world.

This is a protest that aims to ensure that the university is not contributing to the Israeli military bombardment and invasion of Gaza, which has killed many thousands of people. It is understandable that supporters of Israel’s actions may oppose the camp, but this is not evidence of discrimination or intimidation. It is a diverse and inclusive group. For example, during a vigil for the victims of the current invasion, Jewish students took part and led a prayer of remembrance. The students have created a friendly, welcoming space for all who visit.

We see no reason why the students should be removed from the camp.

Signed statement link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1YYXQR9yr1b3N9v-bkiVm0bjPLVY5mfq3-Mx1fDtqFFw/edit

Statement of solidarity with UoN students

UCU at the University of Nottingham (UoNUCU) stands in solidarity with students, who began an encampment on Jubilee Campus outside the Advanced Manufacturing Building on Friday 10 May. We support their call for:

1) full transparency about University of Nottingham involvement in the arms trade,

2) an end to all partnerships with companies involved in arms manufacturing and a transition to sustainable and ethical alternative partnerships,

3) the provision of bursaries for Palestinian staff and students; and

4) a contribution to the reconstruction of the education system in Gaza.

We welcome students’ actions condemning Israel’s ‘plausibly genocidal acts’ in solidarity with the Palestinian people. We admire their resolve to speak up when so many people in the West stay silent.

We reiterate the words of UCU’s Black Members Standing Committee, ‘that calling attention to the systematic discrimination of Palestinians and/or criticising the Israeli government for its contravention of international law must not be conflated with antisemitism’. 

Further, we remind our members, and university management, that UCU stands in solidarity with Palestinian liberation. This includes a commitment to protect students and staff under attack for supporting the cause of the Palestinian people.

As UCU at the University of Nottingham we fully support the right to peaceful protest and urge the University to ensure students’ right to free speech, protest and assembly on campus. We, moreover, call on university management to engage in constructive negotiations with the students around their demands.

Solidarity!

UCU committee at UoN, 14 May 2024

More information:
Prof. Andreas Bieler, UCU President at UoN, 07955 143829 or Andreas.Bieler@nottingham.ac.uk