Motions from AGM 19th June 2023

After the AGM business of ratifying members of the committee for next year, three emergency motions were proposed. All three were passed with significant majorities.

Motion 1) Fighting the 50% Deduction Threat

We note that:

1)     The university does not accept partial performance and has threatened staff who participate in the Marking and Assessment Boycott (MAB) with 50% pay deduction from their salary from 15 May-17 June 2023.

2)     50% deduction of pay for five weeks due to participation in the MAB is punitive, unreasonable, and disproportionate. 

3)   legal challenges to the deductions will be slow, conducted on an individual basis and the outcome of these remain uncertain.

4)  the best way to challenge the deductions in the short to medium term is through an escalation of local action by UCU, including strike action, a strategy which has already proven successful  at the University of Queen Margaret and Kings. 

If the university does not rescind its threat of 50% deductions, we resolve to escalate our action by

1)     Leafleting at Open Days 

2)     Carrying out an indicative e-poll in order to gauge members’ willingness to take strike action during Welcome and Induction Week

Motion 2) Retraction of Conflict of Interest re Senators who are also members of UCU

We note that:

1)     The University Senate has been asked to note that senators who are also members of UCU have a conflict of interest when discussing issues related to industrial action and that they must declare this conflict in advance of these discussions.

2)  This note is based on the assumption that UEB acts in the university’s interest on such matters, but UCU members–who serve on Senate in an individual, non-union capacity–do not. 

3) Trade union membership is sensitive data under GDPR and many join a trade union to express and act on strongly held political beliefs.

4) UCU members who serve on Senate do so in an individual capacity and act independently of UCU.

5) The prosperity of the University is in the interests of all university staff, including UEB and UCU members. UCU members who serve on Senate in an individual, non-union capacity, may or may not agree with UEB on how this prosperity is best achieved, but their membership of UCU does not prevent them from acting in what they believe to be the University’s best interest. 

6) The University’s articles of incorporation mention no one should be treated differently because of trade union membership.

7) UoN UCU and the University have a longstanding recognition agreement which states both ‘have a common interest in the wellbeing of the University’  

8) UCU members elsewhere in the UK have fallen victim to similar campaigns of silence, including exclusion from exam boards on the grounds of CoI

9) At  Senate on June 13, the relevant item was discussed and sent back for further legal consultation

This branch will call on the University to immediately retract any declaration regarding the conflict of interests of Senators who are also UCU members, and to apologise for the initial intimidation.  If the university fails to do this, this branch resolves to

1.     Initiate a publicity campaign, locally and nationally, to draw attention to this abuse of power by UEB against members of UCU

2.     Support any of its members serving on Senate who are being unfairly treated as a result of the declaration  

Motion 3) Ukraine, Union Solidarity, and Self-Determination

 The University of Nottingham branch notes

1   2023 UCU Congress passed Motion 5 “Stop the War in Ukraine—Peace Now” by merely 9 votes out of 288, with 37 abstentions.

2  This motion has been divisive, supplied fodder to an already hostile press, distracted the union from the main struggle at hand, and led to resignations of scores of members disgusted by its wording, not least within Slavonic studies and among those of Ukrainian descent. 

3  The motion transpired without any prior discussion of the issue in our branch—or, presumably, the vast majority of branches.

4  This motion was composed without any serious attempt to involve scholars in such fields as Slavonic studies or international relations, when our union is meant to value research and knowledge.

5  The motion contains no reference to the Ukrainian labour movement, whose two federations have thrown themselves into the resistance to the Russian invasion and simultaneously struggled to uphold workers’ rights in wartime, or to Ukrainian trade unionists, who have been among those fighting and dying on the front lines.

6  The motion states that “wars are fought by the poor and unemployed of one country killing and maiming the poor and unemployed of another,” a cliché true of some wars that does not well describe Ukraine’s fight for independence, in which professionals, students, intellectuals, technicians, and university lecturers have volunteered.

7  The motion does not affirm the right to self-defence or principle of self-determination, which would require respecting the Ukrainian people and government’s urgent requests that the world supply them with arms.

8  The motion calls on “government to stop arming Ukraine” when that would result in victory for the Russian state’s aggression and annexationism.

Therefore, the Nottingham branch

1 – Calls on the NEC to

a)   Put Motion 5 “Stop the War in Ukraine—Peace Now” to an immediate e-ballot of the whole UCU membership, since in this instance we believe a direct consultation is essential to determine whether Congress accurately represented the union’s membership.

b)  Place resources and emphasis on Congress 2023 Motion 6 (which emphasised self-determination and solidarity with Ukraine) and not Motion 5.

2  – Calls for a special Congress for the purposes of repealing Motion 5 “Stop the War in Ukraine—Peace Now”, commits to submit a motion to that effect to that special Congress, and asks other branches to call for such a special Congress.

3  – Acknowledges why many members resigned over this issue and respectfully requests them to rejoin our union and help us forge a sound internationalist policy.

4  – Urges all members to remain in UCU and carry the current campaign to victory against neoliberal management’s disastrous course in the post-16 education sector.

Marking and Assessment Boycott – what does it mean for students?

On Thursday 11 May, at the emergency meeting of Senate – the governing body responsible for academic affairs – management narrowly pushed through emergency regulations with 39 votes in favour, and 37 against. This has extremely important ramifications for your degrees.

What are the emergency regulations?

These regulations allow the university to disregard some of your hard work and make ‘informed guesses’ as to what you might actually have achieved. This is especially concerning for your final year Dissertations / Projects, which may not be read at all. 

Why have they been introduced?

The emergency regulations are management’s response to the call by UCU (University and Colleges Union) for a Marking and Assessment Boycott (MAB). The MAB is part of industrial action across the Higher Education sector in response to pay cuts of 25 per cent since 2008, a pay offer of less than half of current inflation this year, as well as continuing gender, race and disability pay gaps, excessive workloads and widespread casualisation.

Instead of negotiating with UCU to address these issues, University management has decided to penalise staff, degrade your degrees, undermine academic integrity, and place the global status of UK HE in jeopardy.

What are the consequences of the emergency regulations?

There are grave doubts as to whether it will be feasible to implement these regulations successfully[1]. The narrow margin in the Senate vote reflects the concern that these measures are unworkable and unfair. Some professional accreditation bodies are likely to reject them outright[2].

The implications are clear. If your degree is affected by these regulations, it will lose some of its value. Some students will be affected more than others, creating artificial hierarchies in the quality of degrees, even within a single cohort. Employers will know this. They will recognise that some degree classifications are guesstimates at best and will ‘value’ them accordingly.

What is the solution?

Instead of waging a war on its own staff, our management could push the employers’ association, UCEA, into meaningful negotiations with UCU, the union that represents your lecturers and other university staff. Instead of imposing yet another pay cut, our management could push for a serious pay offer, which takes current inflation levels into account. Instead of pretending that high workloads, pay gaps and casualisation are inevitable, University management should commit itself to concrete measures improving these situations. There is another way forward.

UCU is always ready to talk. We want to find a solution that serves everyone, staff, students and the University. You will know that we have repeatedly tried to reason with employers, but they have just not shifted their position. Unfortunately, their “solution” to this crisis is to devalue your degree and to threaten staff taking part in lawful action with punitive pay deductions of 50 per cent of full salary that will, in some cases, reduce your lecturers’ income to below the National Minimum Wage. You deserve better, we deserve better!

If you are worried about the Universities’ refusal to engage in meaningful talks, we encourage you to write to the Vice Chancellor Prof. Shearer West. Demand that she speaks up for staff and students at UoN and calls for UCEA to enter proper negotiations. You can email her and other senior managers directly by scanning the following QR code:


UCU branch at UoN

[1] The University has serious problems with the software it uses to manage student records and it is hard to believe it will stand up to the test of these emergency regulations. Many of you will already have experienced problems being enrolled on the right modules or registered for the right exams.

[2] For example, the Institute of Physics and the Royal Society of Chemistry have already raised serious concerns. At Cambridge University, similar emergency regulations were rejected by their governing body.

UCU Industrial action strategy 2023

In the ongoing debate about what the next steps in our industrial action to restore USS benefits and obtain a better deal for pay and working conditions should be, we (UoNUCU branch committee) think that the proposal in our September motion is the most sensible: on-going strike action from the first day of the second semester, organised in such a way that members only take strike action on those days when withdrawing labour impacts the employer.
Read a longer rationale here

Branch meeting to discuss this and make your voice heard
Jan 6 2023 at 13:00
Zoom link will be sent to branch members via email

Local UCU UoN branch strike hardship payments

As we head into the next round of strike days, this branch will be complementing the national strike pay with hardship payments, where national strike pay is not sufficient and will leave a member in difficulty.

National UCU strike pay

The national union has announced its strike pay support for those taking industrial action (full details here).

Applications for payment are made direct to the national union – see link here.

Members are urged to apply to the national union for strike pay in the first instatnce

Local UCU UoN branch top up hardship payments

The local UCU UoN branch is determined to ensure that members are not prevented from participating in our strikes because of concerns about financial hardship. That is why members voted to transfer £25,000 to the local branch fighting fund, and further funds will be allocated to the fighting fund soon. This money is tosupport branch members. It has been built up by members subscriptions to ensure members do not feel forced back to work because of financial hardship. It is how we show our solidarity as Trade Unionists.

Where national strike pay is not sufficient to prevent significant financial hardship branch members are encouraged to apply to the local branch hardship fund.

For strike action between 14th February and 2nd March 2022 (10 days strike) the local union will pay a maximum of £25 per strike day (from 14th February, ie ‘Day 1’ onwards).

If you do not need to draw on these funds, we ask you not to claim. The branch is keen to ensure funds are available to those in greatest need and this is where we are keen to focus our resources. Your understanding in this regard is appreciated.

You are eligible for a local hardship payment if you meet ALL of these criteria

  1. You are a UCU member at UoN
  2. You are paying subscriptions at the correct rate (if any subscription is payable)
  3. You fully participated in the strike, ie; you did not work on any day that the union instructed us to go on strike as a result of the democratic ballot
  4. You have claimed for strike pay from the National Fighting Fund
  5. The national strike pay does not exceed or equal the deductions made to your salary

To apply for the local hardship fund

Email the branch with ALL of this information

  1. A screenshot, scanned or photographed copy of the payslip which shows the deduction made for striking
  2. Your bank details (account name, number and sort code)
  3. The dates you were out on strike
  4. The amount needed to prevent hardship as a result of strike deductions. This should not be more than £25 per strike day, or exceed the amount of pay lost after strike pay has been accounted for.
  5. Screenshot copy or other proof of application for national strike pay

Hardship Loans

It can take up to 2 weeks for national strike pay to be processed We recognise that for a few people waiting for two weeks will cause unmanageable difficulties and/or hardship. In this case, the limited local branch hardship fund may be able to lend you the amount you have claimed, to be repaid on receipt of the strike pay from UCU. You will need to be eligible in the same way and provide the same information as above.

National strike pay and local hardship payments are not taxed at source.