Motions passed at 1st May 2024 members meeting: 1. academic freedom and UKRI, 2. motion for SHESC, and 3. on Standing with Palestine.

These motions were each passed by a large majority of members attending a meeting on 1st May 2024 having been circulated in advance by email. They are posted here for subsequent reference.

1. UoN UCU Branch Follow-up Motion on Academic Freedom and
UKRI

For consideration at the next General Members Meeting

This branch notes:

  1. The motion UoN UCU Branch Motion on Academic Freedom and UKRI which passed
    at Extraordinary General Meeting on Monday November 6, 2023.
  2. The outcome of the UKRI’s investigation into allegations against members of its EDI
    Advisory Group made by Michelle Donelan, Secretary of State for Science, Innovation
    and Technology being a full exoneration.
  3. That the Secretary of State has publicly retracted her accusations and compensation
    has been paid by the Government.
  4. That the basis for the allegations made by the Secretary of State was a policy
    document by a right-wing think tank.

This branch believes:

  1. That the outcome of UKRI’s investigation and eventual exoneration of the individuals
    concerned are a positive development.
  2. That this investigation, and the damage to the reputation of the individuals
    concerned, could have been prevented by a more robust UKRI response to alarmist
    ministerial intervention.
  3. That the UKRI’s announcement of the outcome of its investigation, while inviting the
    members of the EDI Advisory Group to reengage, should have gone further in
    defending the necessity and value of its EDI work and academic freedom.
  4. That the use of public funds to settle claims related to the Secretary of State is
    concerning.
  5. That these events show a worrisome trend of anti-intellectualism, anti-‘wokeness’,
    and faux concerns about freedom of speech driven by right wing think tanks who
    provide little transparency on their funding.

This branch resolves:

  1. To advise that UoN UCU members reengage with UKRI activities, events, peer
    review, and other voluntary roles they had been called to boycott per the prior
    motion.
  2. To encourage UoN UCU members in professional associations to continue to express their concerns collectively to UKRI.
  3. To support UCU campaigns to pressure UKRI, and other funders, on matters of EDI and academic freedom.

2. Motion for SHESC on 17 May 2024: Increase branches’ financial and budgetary awareness and skills

SHESC notes:

  • The growing number of HE institutions (HEIs) attacks on jobs, terms and conditions.
  • HEIs claim that the financial challenges are sector-wide.
  • UCU branches have successfully challenged compulsory redundancies.
  • Congress 2024 motions ROC4, ED1, HE22 among others.

SHESC believes:

  • Branch officers and activists require financial literacy to challenge job cuts and other savings plans.
  • Respective expertise in this area is available amongst members, UCU staff and external consultants.
  • While HE funding needs reform urgently, financial management in many HEIs is poor.

SHESC resolves:

  • To instruct HEC to establish an HE finances working group, drawing on expertise from members and UCU staff to support branches with analysis of financial statements and budgets.
  • To engage external consultants for specialist financial expertise upon request by a Branch.
  • To develop training on analysis of financial statements and budgets for branch officers and activists.

3. Motion on Standing with Palestine

This branch notes:

  • Our General Secretary Jo Grady’s email to members that Wednesday 1 May, UCU is
    supporting the workplace Day of Action for Palestine;
  • The ongoing ‘educide’ in Gaza, where Israel’s current military offensive has resulted in the destruction of many universities and schools and the killing of thousands of students, hundreds of teachers and support staff, and nearly 100 professors.

This branch believes: 

  • That as an education union we have to speak up and mobilise against Israel’s
    ‘plausibly genocidal acts’; 
  • That we have to stand in solidarity with the oppressed Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

This branch resolves: 

  • To donate £500 to Friends of Birzeit University (Fobzu; https://fobzu.org/), which
    provides scholarships to young Palestinians;
  • To donate £500 to Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP; https://www.map.org.uk/).
  • To instruct the committee to explore affiliation with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) in line with the affiliation of the national UCU and report back to next members meeting in this respect; 
  • To demand from UoN management to provide institutional scholarships for Palestinian students and academic fellowships for staff similar to the support provided to students and staff from the Ukraine.

Branch meeting 28th February 1-2pm and motion

The below email was sent to members on 22nd Feb, with initial notice for members of branch meeting circulated on 7th Feb.

Dear members

In anticipation of the Branch Meeting on Wednesday 28 February, 1-2pm, the message below promised that Branch Committee would circulate today any draft Branch motions proposed for this year’s UCU Congress. One motion has been proposed:

Reporting back of NEC members to constituencies

Congress instructs the NEC to formulate rule change motions to ensure the following:

  1. NEC members canvass opinions from branches and regions in their constituencies prior to NEC and NEC subcommittee meetings.
  2. NEC members produce a written report within two working weeks of NEC and NEC subcommittees to be circulated in the appropriate constituency.
  3. Appropriate mechanisms to be established by UCU to support circulation of reports from NEC members to constituencies.

If you wish to propose an amendment to this text, please email uonucubranch@gmail.com by Monday 26 February at 12 noon.

The motion will be voted upon, and Delegates to Congress will be elected, at the upcoming Branch Meeting. If you are interested to put yourself forward to attend as a Delegate, there is still time – the message below explains the how to nominate.

Zoom details for the Branch Meeting will follow.

In solidarity,

Tony

Tony Simmonds (UoNUCU Secretary)

Motion on Defending Jobs at University of Nottingham – 12th December 2023

The below motion was adopted by the Branch with a strong majority.

This branch notes:

  • That UCU at UoN again easily reached the ballot threshold of 50% during the most recent, national ballot (local records indicate a turnout in excess of 60%);
  • That we are well organised locally and therefore ready to defend our conditions at UoN if and when necessary;

This branch believes:

  • That it is our key task to defend all jobs and working conditions;
  • That we need to maintain our readiness to take action through the continuing building of our reps network;

This branch resolves:

  • That any management plans for redundancies will immediately trigger an e-ballot as a first step towards a formal ballot on industrial action.

Motions from Extraordinary General Meeting of the Branch Monday 6th November

Members attending the EGM on 6th November voted to support three motions:

  • Motion in support of Professor Hakim Adi and the MRes in the History of Africa and African Diaspora.
  • Motion on the Current Situation in Gaza.
  • UoN UCU Branch Motion on Academic Freedom and UKRI.

The full text of each motion can be found below.

Motion in support of Professor Hakim Adi and  the MRes in the History of Africa and African  Diaspora  

This branch notes that: 

  1. In 2020, in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd and the resurgence of  the Black Lives Matter movement, universities across the UK, including the  University of Chichester, pledged to better support Black Studies and Black  students and to decolonize the curriculum. 
  2. Hakim Adi, Professor of Africa and the African Diaspora, is the first African-British  professor of History and is one of only four Black professors of History in the UK and that only 0.3% of History staff are Black. 
  3. The MRes in the History of Africa and African Diaspora at University of Chichester  is the one of very few post-graduate courses of its type in the country and has  recruited students of Black Caribbean, African and African-British heritages.  
  4. By making Prof Adi redundant, at least 16 postgraduate students will lose vital  supervisory expertise and support.  

We recognize that: 

  1. Linking Professor Adi’s employment to the financial success of the MRes is  individually damaging and a threat to the whole sector.  
  2. Dismantling the MRes leaves current post-graduates without expert supervision  and support and undermines the future of Black history in particular, and Black  studies in general. 
  3. The loss of Professor Adi and the MRes is a step backward in commitments to  decolonize the curriculum and support Black staff and students. 
  4. The particular targeting of the MRes and the impact it will have on Black  students is an example of structural racism within the academy.  

UCU is committed to campaigning against all compulsory redundancies, to fighting  racism and supporting the decolonization of the curriculum. Professor Adi’s threatened  redundancy and the closure of the MRes goes against these principles.  

We support the demands made by the Black Members’ Standing Committee and call on  the University of Chichester to: 

  1. Retain Professor Adi in his post as Professor of the History; 
  2. Look for viable strategies to maintain the MRes History of Africa and the African  Diaspora.  

We call on all universities and HEIs in the UK to:

  1. Promote and resource Black history, and support Black students and staff for the  benefit of higher education and society as a whole.  
  2. Recognise and take initiatives to counter structural racism within higher  education.

Motion on the Current Situation in Gaza

We are utterly horrified at the violence that we have seen in recent weeks in both Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. 

We condemn in the strongest possible terms the targeting of civilian life by both Hamas and  the Israeli military, and we also condemn instances of Antisemitism and Islamophobia that  we have witnessed since the violence unfolded. 

This branch notes:

  • That collective punishment of more than 2 million Palestinians living Gaza is a clear  violation of international law. 
  • The complicity of the British government and main opposition party through their  unequivocal moral and material support for Israel, its occupation of Palestine and its  crimes against humanity. 
  • The attacks in our sector on academic freedom and the right to protest in support of the  plight of Palestinian people. 
  • The increase in racism including Islamophobia and Antisemitism in our universities  and wider society. 
  • The events of recent days are part of a continuing cycle of violence that has been the  result of decades of brutal occupation. 
  • The targeting of civilians by Hamas was and is brutal and unacceptable. 

The branch believes:

  • In the right of occupied and colonised peoples to resist that occupation as is  recognised under international law. 
  • Achieving a lasting peace in the region must start with an end to the occupation, a  release of hostages, and recognition of the rights of all people. 
  • In maintaining an unambiguous position of solidarity with Palestine. • the right of academics and students to express their solidarity with the Palestinian  people and to contextualise the unfolding violence. 
  • That these discussions can take place is crucial to academic and intellectual freedom. • that we support any colleague and student who is grieving as a consequence of the  current violence in Israel/Palestine. 

The branch resolves:

  • To call upon the British Government and the international community to collectively  call for an immediate ceasefire, release of hostages, and de-escalation, by Hamas and  Israel, including the lifting of the siege of Gaza. 
  • To call for a suspension of UK political and military support of Israel, which is used to  perpetuate war crimes and crimes against humanity.
  • To affirm in line with the position of the national UCU our support for the Boycott,  Divestment and Sanctions movement. 
  • To support campaigns of solidarity with Palestinians. 
  • To affirm our institution’s legal and normative commitments to uphold academic  freedom. 

As a trade union, we are committed to achieving peace and an end to violence and  oppression. We send our solidarity to all those affected by these events, especially education  staff and students. We know that many will be worrying about loved ones, and to those  grieving we send our heartfelt condolences.

UoN UCU Branch Motion on Academic Freedom and UKRI

This branch notes:

  1. There is a current wave of repression and censorship against those expressing  solidarity with the Palestinian people and their cause. 
  2. On 28th October Michelle Donelan, Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and  Technology, wrote a public letter to UKRI which singled out and named two  academic members of the UKRI EDI Advisory Group for their social media posts  criticising Israel’s actions in Palestine, and questioned the role of the Advisory Group. 
  3. UKRI responded with a letter to Donelan, dated 30th October, in which they  announced the suspension of the EDI group, an investigation into Donelan’s claims,  and a review of the future of both the EDI group and all other advisory structures  within UKRI. 

This branch believes; 

  1. Michelle Donelan’s letter represents a chilling attempt to silence and intimidate  academics speaking out, whether on Palestine and other matters deemed contrary  to a narrow, partisan political agenda. 
  2. The capitulation by UKRI leadership to political threats from a government minister  raises ethical questions about the independence of research and knowledge within  UK HE. 
  3. The letter, and UKRI’s response to it, undermines and threatens academic freedom.
  4. That the underlying political agenda served by Donelan’s intervention is to undo all  the important work on equality, diversity, and inclusion at UKRI.  

This branch resolves; 

  1. To advise that UoN UCU members in voluntary roles with UKRI resign from their  posts and do not accept future invitations to participate. 
  2. To advise that UoN UCU members boycott events organised by UKRI and refuse to  conduct peer reviews from UKRI grant applications. 
  3. To encourage UoN UCU members in professional associations to express their  concern collectively to UKRI. 
  4. To reaffirm its commitment to equality, diversity, and inclusion in UK HE and call on  the University of Nottingham to issue a statement to that effect. 

Composers’ note: This motion draws on a draft motion circulate to signatories of the UKRI Open Letter regarding the initial response of UKRI to Michelle Donelan’s letter by the Notes from Below organization.

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.