Report back from Resisting the Market conference

Resisting the Market, Uniting for: Pay, Pensions, Democracy, Equality and Justice

Organised by UCU Transformed, UCU Left, Branch Solidarity Network and OurUCU

Saturday 13 October 2018

This was an inspiring conference bringing people together who have fought for pensions and pay and campaigned to reclaim their university, are fighting precarity, oppose racism on campus and want to bring all staff in-house.

100 people attended from around 50 university and college branches.

mark abel

Most of the day was made up of workshops hosted from a diversity of campaigns. The day ended with a general assembly and discussion of the success of the pensions and pay campaigns and how to win the coming battles including the pay ballot closing on the 19th.

Workshops

Deepa DriverThe morning workshops included a meeting on USS: Where next after the JEP report? The session was run by a USS Briefs team including Felicity Callard, Jo Grady, Jaya John, Deepa Driver (left) and Carlo Morelli, national negotiator.

There was a very informative presentation on Adult Education, Devolution and Apprenticeships. Forogh Rahmani, a senior policy advisor from the London Mayor’s office, outlined how they were preparing for the devolution of adult funding. It was refreshing to be in a dialogue with policy makers who are listening and want to engage with unions. A link will be available here to the presentation.

Nita Sanghera UCU Vice President (right) spoke about the forthcoming Apprenticeships Charter UCU will be launching this week.

Amy Jowett ACE and Sue Abbott from UCU’s Women’s Committee led a session on women and sexual harassment in the workplace. Attendees worked in groups on different ways to tackle sexual harassment in the workplace. There was a brief report back in the final session as many questions were thrown up in the course of the discussion.

David Muritu, Sandwell, Hugo Leal, Cambridge, and Feysi Ismail, SOAS, joined Stand Up to Racism to host a workshop on how we stop Tommy Robinson and the far right? The conference coincided with a successful Stand Up to Racism mobilisation that blocked the far right marching through London. It was the first time the anti-fascists outnumbered the DFLA.

The next round of workshops included a focus on precarious work in our colleges and universities with speakers including a striker, Laura Campbell from the Durham Teaching Assistants, Mustafa Turus (CCCG), Sam Morecroft from the University of Sheffield, as well as successful London campaigns from SOAS and the IWGB.

Rachel Cohen (City University) hosted a meeting to discuss what we mean by Democracy in the UCU ahead of the democracy commission and the recall congress due to take place later this week.

Eamonn Leddy (CCCG) gave a presentation on Radical Accounting – the money is there, we want our share. He outlined how our side needs to counter the economic argument of the employers and described how this strengthened the resolve of members at CCCG who recently won an excellent fractionalisation deal. A link will be available here.

After lunch there were two sessions. One on fighting redundancies in FE and HE with speakers from recent campaigns from Leicester, UEL, Bradford College, Bournemouth, LSBU, and Middlesex.

Another workshop was We Are the University where workers spoke on the Gold Paper (see link) to democratise our campuses and organising to bring all workers in-house. Speakers called for branches to back the boycott of Senate House.

maria

The panel included migrant workers campaigns including Marcia (above) speaking on the successful campaigns from the Kings Cleaners UVW, alongside speakers from Justice for cleaners Goldsmiths and the IWGB.

Universities Resist Border Controls held a session on immigration & visas for academics using real life case studies to respond to the #hostileenvironment. Check out @UnisNotBorders

Conclusions

The final session was a general assembly hosted by Des Freedman (Goldsmiths) and Mandy Brown, London Region Secretary.

Marian Carty, Goldsmiths UCU President, appealed to activists to use the last few days to go round staff rooms and talk to members to get the vote out in the pay campaign as the 19th of October deadline nears.

susan kellySusan Kelly, Goldsmiths, (right) launched the Branch Solidarity Network activist handbook (@ucusolidarity).

Pete Bicknell, Lewisham & Southwark College, reported on their two day strike on pay in September and how much support there has been from Labour MPs and councillors for since Jeremy Corbyn was elected.

Mark Abel, Brighton, outlined how the strategy of front-loading and escalating worked in their fight against redundancies and de-recognition at Brighton, as well as the pension campaigns.

Elaine Heffernan, NEC Disabled members rep, called on everyone to back the Day of Action 21st November called by the disabled members committee.

Jim Newell was sacked from his job at Salford after 27 years service due to marketisation and ‘capability’. He spoke passionately about his case and how the outpouring of solidarity lifted him psychologically.

seanSean Vernell, FEC Vice Chair, (left) was the closing speaker for the assembly. He said the employers are weak. When we organise sustained action we win more often than we lose.

We need to get the vote out across the sector – there is potential for the biggest action since the pensions strike.

The conference was jointly called by UCU Transformed, London Region, Branch Solidarity Network, UCU Left and OurUCU. It was held at the Institute of Education in October 2018.

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