Workshop notes, #UCUTransformed

The following notes were documented during the various workshops

Moving into action, Organising to GTVO and strike

  • Take-away points / memorable moments. Importance of Preparing The Ground before ballot. GTVO not just bureaucratic but political campaign. How to keep the momentum going that the strike has built. Broaden the scope of the things we challenge.
  • Suggested actions. Investigate issues with electronic voting. Find a balance between local and national issues.

#NoCapitulation, using social media

  • Decisions. Extend use in FE – training sessions?
  • Take-away points / memorable moments. Social media is an add on and can catalyse but not replace organising. Builds community identity but can exclude. Anonymise, share responsibility, have agreed guidelines to protect branch.

Democratising the union: putting members at the centre of change

  • Decisions Add equality/disability awareness / inc in organising events
  • Take-away points / memorable moments Clyde Workers Committee 1915: ‘We will support the officials just so long as they represent the workers, but we will act independently immediately they misrepresent them’.
  • Suggested actions Hold academic conference on this matter, congruent with who we are and what we do, publish papers etc.. Think of ways to replicate the GTVO campaign / picket line mobilisation. Demand that key papers from HEC and FEC meetings be published. Sheffield’s Democracy Review motion
  • Questions raised (still to be answered)
    • How do we increase members’ knowledge about the union?
    • Is it too late to influence the JEP? Is this not a problem of a general democratic deficit?
  • Other Role of the Special Higher Education Sector Conference – depending on when, what its potential could be.

Reclaiming our Colleges: Students and workers organising together

  • Take-away points / memorable moments Teachouts and solidarity between students and staff. Building horizontal relationships. Not Student Union but grassroots. Building standing committees with staff and students. Lack of effective pre-strike communication between UCU and SU in some campuses
  • Suggested actions Questions of Governance (Scotland as an example?). Campaigns in defence of Statutes. For democratising our colleges. Building joint student+staff solidarity committees with a view to calling general assemblies. Continue teach-ins? Regular newsletter. Fight for education as a whole. International movement.
  • Questions raised (still to be answered) Solidarity with other university workers (e.g. cleaners, security, etc.) who also have been striking for their rights? What should students do to reclaim their students union?
  • Other University bureaucratisation & increasing admin tasks issue – important for both students and workers

 Equality Through and Through: Integrating equality demands in our industrial campaigns

  • Decisions Things must change on disabled access.
  • Take-away points / memorable moments Integrate equality. must be central to everything we do. eg pay claim to give more to lower graded workers, who are often Black members. union increase in FE in hourly paid, women, black members and disabled members are concentrated in this group and UCU must campaign for HPL as an equality issue. also pensions move to career average rather than final salary affects women (and disabled..).  HE: Cambridge used the USS strike to challenge racism and set up a network of women of Colour. new people involved must be included. ge in our access to our union events . disabled members demand we are included by equal acess and involved in planning for this in future. Midlands region has a number of equality reps at regional level and this should happen for every strand.
  • Suggested actions integrate equality. must be central to everything we do. eg pay claim to give more to lower graded workers, who are often Black members. union increase in FE in hourly paid, women, black members and disabled members are concenrtrated in this group and UCU must campaign for HPL as an equality issue. also pensions move to career average rather than final salary affects women (and disabled..).  HE: Cambridge used the USS strike to challenge racism and set up a network of women of Colour. new people involved must be included. ge in our access to our union events . disabled members demand we are included by equal acess and involved in planning for this in future.  women strike actions on 8th March in USS was a good step, but the fight to decolonise the universities and make them democratic goes on. The union is much too slow on sexual harassment.  can we integrate more carefully issues of sexual harassment
  • Questions raised (still to be answered) how can we frame our pay campaigns in such a way as to embed equality issues better?  how can we make disabiled access better (consult disabled members and campaign with us rather than put issues to back burner)  how do we shift the agenda so tht we are not limited to the constraints of the UCU lawyers advice and the law–which does not achieve equality. how do we stop Athena Swan being a token event
  • Other we have done well in winning the idea that we get equality on the agenda as an industtrial issue. we are serious about it and need to make the officials see it as an industrial issue. we need to make the union ask the question of the members, what does victory look like on equality questions?  more discussion on how everyone is involved in fighting for equality–eg not just women or not just black memebrs organising around equality. It must not be only the oppressed who are involved in changing things. should international issues be hived off into a seperate workshop from equallities in future?
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UCU – A union transformed

 

A UK-wide activists’ assembly and organising school#UCUTransformed

Saturday 28 April, 10.30-5pm

Statement from final session

The 14 days of strike action against the attack on USS and the thousands of new members who have joined UCU show the massive potential for action to transform our union. The same process of transformation seen in USS HE branches is under way in FE, which have had a wave of strikes over pay and conditions, and in post 92 universities, illustrated by the recent disputes at Brighton University and LMU. However, we are deeply concerned about the opaque and undemocratic behaviour of the UCU leadership.

The imagination and enthusiasm shown by UCU members has been inspiring. We have seen expansion and participation at branch level. But this process has been uneven. We face an urgent task to maintain our numbers and develop the democratic control of our union, and our disputes, by our members.

We need to use the energy of recent disputes to continue the fight on pensions, but also to open up new fronts on equal pay, and put equality, disability, discrimination and casualisation – in its different forms – at the heart of the union.

The USS dispute has shown that a new generation of activists, including student activists, can be won to our union. It is vital we maintain the momentum and ensure it truly represents our members. The union must support members in developing alternative proposals to set against destructive management agendas of cuts, redundancies and punitive performance management.

We need to develop a genuine network of solidarity amongst branches. No UCU branch should fight alone. We support the establishment of a UCU solidarity network, and agree to meet again as a national group in the autumn term.

Resources

Event details
union-transformed-flyer

The USS ballot is over, but the dispute isn’t. We need to recognise the solidarities our dispute created and cemented, rise to the challenge of building on these solidarities, fighting for collective interests, and build the alternative university many of us got a chance to experience or envisage during the dispute. Come join us and be part of that conversation. – Jo Grady, University of Sheffield

Hosted by London Region UCU. Supported by UCU branches at Liverpool University, Dundee University, Goldsmiths College, Newcastle University, King’s College London, University College London, University of Brighton, Sandwell College, City and Islington College and Lambeth College… and more.

 

Timetable

10.30am-11.00am Registration
11.00am-12.15pm Workshops
i) Moving into Action: Campaigning to GTVO and organising strikes
Jim Wolfreys (King’s), Westminster Kingsway speaker
ii) #NoCapitulation: Using social media
Jana Bacevic (Cambridge), Rhiannon Lockley (Halesowen)
iii) Democratising the union: putting members at the centre of change
Jo Grady (Sheffield), Carlo Morelli (Dundee)
iv) Reclaiming our Colleges: Students and workers organising together
Sean Wallis (UCL), Feyzi Ismail (SOAS)
12.30pm-2.00pm HE open session: The USS pension dispute – reclaiming our Universities – (fighting to win) * Activist Guide * Ten points
Marion Hersh (Glasgow), Dennis Leech (Warwick), Sam Marsh (Sheffield), Carlo Morelli (Dundee)
FE open session: Pay and conditions in FE: Coordinating to win
Nita Sanghera (Bournville), Sean Vernell (City & Islington)
2.00pm-2.30pm Lunch
2.30pm-3.45pm Workshops
i) Building solidarity across the labour and trade union movement
Hull, Bradford and Liverpool speakers
ii) Equality Through and Through: Integrating equality demands in our industrial campaigns
Manali Desai (Cambridge), Dave Muritu (Sandwell)
iii) At the Heart of the Union: casualised workers in industrial action
Amy Jowett (Hackney ACE), Sai Englert (SOAS)
iv) An Injury to One… Defending international workers and students (fighting racism on campus)
Ioanna Ioannou (UCL)
3:45pm-5.00pm Closing session: Organising to win – building a democratic, campaigning union
Mandy Brown (Lambeth), Nita Sanghera (Bournville) and others tbc

UCU – A union transformed
– building a fighting union

A UK-wide activists’ assembly and organising school with practical sessions and discussion

The strike action taken by UCU members in HE in defence of USS pensions has been inspirational. Some 40,000 lecturers, academic related staff, researchers and support staff have struck across 64 institutions. In the first week of the strike 3,200 people joined UCU. Many of these new members are BAME, women and young members starting out their careers.

In FE 15 colleges are involved in a campaign of escalating strike action in defence of their pay and conditions. There are another 146 branches that have submitted 168 claims to their employers that could form a second wave of action. This is 50% of all FE bargaining units across the UK. The claims range from, pay, casualisation, equal pay and workloads.

UCU is in transformation.

This UCU UK–wide activist assembly, hosted by London Region UCU, invites all branches that want to be a part of developing a new campaigning UCU to come to the school. Each session will be led off by UCU members who have been on the front-line of this transformation; building the strike votes and picket lines, developing imaginative social media campaigns and creative campaigning strategies. Each workshop will be looking at ways that women, BAME, LGBT+ and disabled members can ensure that their concerns are central in shaping the union.

Equality issues have to be at the heart of a fighting UCU.

If you are in a branch that is about to enter into a dispute or in a branch that hasn’t yet been energised by the recent campaigning activity around USS and FE pay come along and be a part of the event.

**There will be a collection for a hardship fund on the day to help towards the cost of the fare for those who have travelled from outside London to get the meeting**

It is very likely that we have not seen the end of industrial action in this dispute over the future of the USS. While we must ensure that the terms of reference and appointments to the Joint Expert Panel are agreed transparently and without mission-creep, it is also precisely the right time to discuss the democratic structures of UCU to ensure that we are in the strongest possible position to robustly defend our pension in six months’ time, should we need to do so. – Sam Marsh, University of Sheffield.

London Region UCU Training Event, Saturday Nov 30

This training event is targeted at London Region Branch and Local Association reps who are either new or already engaged in case work within a London college or university at either individual and collective level.

London Region UCU are hosting this event in response to increasing demand for case workers at local level and increasing demands on the time and capacity of local case workers.

Experienced activists from London Region will be present at ALL sessions, but part of the aim of the event is for YOU to share your local experience with other UCU officers. The aim of this event is anything but ‘top down’. We will aim to collate feedback from the afternoon session on collective issues and use this as the basis for future events and for further related work developed within London Region.

Location

  • University of Arts (King’s Cross site), Central St Martin’s College
  • 1 Granary Square London N1C 4AA.
  • Map

See also

How to register

If you wish to attend the Training Event, could you please return the form above by NOON, MONDAY NOVEMBER 18th at the latest by email either to