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.