UCU – A union transformed

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

Saturday 28 April, 10.30-5pm

UCL Roberts Engineering Building
Torrington Place WC1

Nearest tube: Goodge Street. Map

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Speakers include: Manali Desai (Cambridge), Jo Grady (Sheffield), Dennis Leech (Warwick), Carlo Morelli (Dundee), Nita Sanghera (Bourneville College), Sean Vernell (City and Islington) and many more.

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.

10.30am-11.00am Registration
11.00am-12.15pm Workshops
i) Moving into Action: Campaigning to GTVO and organising strikes
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)
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.
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Education Demo #2, 14 March

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Rally and Strike Meeting in Westminster Central Hall from 2pm

Confirmed speakers to include:

  • Joanna De Groot, UCU President
  • John McDonnell MP
  • Catherine West MP
  • Sean Wallis, UCU NEC and HE Convention
  • Chair: Rachel Cohen, UCU NEC

Following a very successful demonstration on February 28th, when 5,000 staff and students in Further and Higher Education marched, London Region UCU has called a second demonstration to Parliament within the fourth week of USS strikes.

Education is under a massive attack. Tuition fees for university have gone through the roof and colleges are in frantic competition with each other to recruit students.

Now the employers want to wreck the pensions of Higher Education staff. Workers ranging from senior academics to postgraduate teaching assistants have begun a programme of an initial 14 days of strike action, closing 65 universities across the UK. We have seen massive pickets on our campuses, and the overwhelming support of students.

16 colleges of Further Education are also in dispute in defence of their pay and conditions. Further Education has lost 15,000 jobs, and one million adult education places, and lecturers have seen their wages cut by 21% since 2009.

We welcome delegations and support from outside London and from across the student and trade union movement. You can get in touch by email or by leaving a comment on our website.
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Demo route

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Emergency Lobby of Parliament over HE Bill – 12 noon 26.4.17 – Parliament Sq

URGENT – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE AND CIRCULATION

Lobby of Parliament

Government ‘concessions’ not nearly enough, say academics and UCU


London Region UCU has called a lobby of Parliament today (26 April) at 12 noon. The lobby is supported by UCU and the Campaign for the Public University.

What is at stake

The Government has made some concessions to attempt to get the Higher Education and Research Bill onto the statute books before the General Election. The Bill faced nearly 250 amendments proposed by the House of Lords. They need votes in both Houses of Parliament to get approval.

The House of Commons will take a decision on the future of the Bill later today. London Region UCU has called a protest and lobby in Parliament Square from 12 noon. Union members are being urged to write to MPs.

Analysis by UCU, the Council for the Defence of British Universities (CDBU) and the HE Convention is that these “concessions” do not go far enough.

Yesterday UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt wrote to all members. She writes that

Amendments which are NOW AT RISK include:

  1. blocking plans for a crude rating of teaching quality
  2. removing the link between teaching excellence and tuition fees
  3. ensuring any organisation awarding degrees meet improved quality standards
  4. removing international students from net migration targets
  5. protecting overseas staff

Prof David Midgley, a leading member of the CDBU, notes that the Government has provided little detail in its response to many of the Lords Amendments, and some amendments are not addressed at all.

His analysis, published today by the HE Convention, observes that the Government has potentially made minor concessions on points 1 and 3 above, but has refused to remove the link between the TEF and fees, and has made no improvements to protect international students and staff.

Pledge your support for the UCU boycott of London Metropolitan University

LATEST – UCU calls for an international comprehensive academic boycott of London Metropolitan University

Boycott!

Sign the pledge

How you can support the boycott

Members are asked to support the academic boycott in any way that they can. This may include not doing the following at London Met:

  • applying for any advertised jobs
  • speaking at or organising academic or other conferences
  • giving guest lectures
  • accepting positions as visiting professors or researchers
  • writing for any academic journal which is edited at or produced by the institution in question
  • accepting new contracts as external examiners for taught courses
  • collaborating on new research projects.

NB: UCU members employed by LMU itself must not participate in the academic boycott in order to protect their contractual position. 

Please note that the above advice will not ordinarily preclude members from supporting the boycott with regard to such things as refusing to apply for, or accept an external examiner’s contract, choosing not to provide a visiting lecture at LMU, choosing a research partner and so on since these are generally matters of individual academic autonomy. Members in any doubt about their contractual position should seek the union’s advice before acting.

For the avoidance of doubt, where any of the above activities forms part of your existing contractual duties or where you are otherwise unsure about this you should only refrain from doing them after your head of department (or line manager) has given you prior permission to do so. UCU is not asking or encouraging academics to act in breach of their contracts of employment.

If you have any queries please contact Matt Waddup at mwaddup@ucu.org.uk

What you can do to support London Met UCU

Even if you do not currently engage in any of these activities, we ask you to make a public commitment to boycott in advance, and ask your colleagues to do likewise.

Further, we ask you to write to London Met’s Vice Chancellor and Chair of Governors to pledge your support for our campaign:-

Finally, we ask you to do your utmost to publicise the boycott and the issues at stake.


Letter – Resist the privatisation of HE – we pledge our solidarity to London Met UCU

An abridged version of this letter appeared in the Guardian newspaper on Saturday 6 August 2016.

We the undersigned, commit ourselves to a campaign of solidarity and support for the UCU branch at London Metropolitan University (LMU), in their battle for the future of the university.

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Protest: Restore funding to ESOL: don’t scapegoat migrants

Outside Downing Street,
Whitehall SW1
Wednesday 27 January 2016, 6pm

Called by London Region UCU
Supported by Action for ESOL and Stop the War Coalition

UCU London Region, jointly with Stand Up to Racism, is calling an emergency demonstration on Wednesday 27th January at 6:00pm outside Downing Street.

Speakers include

  • Shakira Martin, NUS Vice President FE
  • Danielle Tiplady, student nurse fighting cuts to the student bursaries
  • Maz Saleem, Stop the War Coalition

Many colleagues will have been shocked and angered to hear Muslims scapegoated in a radio interview by David Cameron for not integrating into British society because they don’t speak English.

He announced £20m ‘extra’ funding for ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) as part of a plan to ‘integrate’ Muslim women.

This is a scandal. There has been a furore in the press and I’m calling on you to join me next Wednesday at Downing Street to challenge this.

The sheer hypocrisy is staggering when people are desperate to learn English and are being turned away because of funding cuts by this and the last government he led.

ESOL funding has been cut by £160m since 2008. £45m was cut in the summer two weeks before the start of the new term, on top of the 24% cut to the Adult Skills Budget earlier last year.

It is frustrating to see the PM try to make political capital out of our students when we know the reality is that they are being denied the right to learn English. David Cameron did exactly the same thing in the summer when he spoke about how women needed English, and then went on to cut ESOL provision two days later.

Two thirds of ESOL students are women. They were the hardest hit by cuts and £20m will fall far short of what is necessary, especially when we consider that how many ESOL providers have lengthy waiting lists. At Lambeth College where I teach ESOL, the number of teachers has been cut from 65 to 31 in the last 18 months.

The language the PM used to single out Muslims is both inflammatory and islamophobic. It’s part of a racist narrative that says people don’t want to learn English and don’t want to integrate. It simply isn’t true. David Cameron suggests that if Muslim parents don’t speak English this could lead their children to become terrorists. It is dangerous to conflate these issues.

If the government are saying 850,000 people need English. Why only target a small proportion of Muslims? People of other faiths, or non, as well as men need to speak English too.

The government will implement plans in October for spousal migrants (and their children) to take a test after two and a half years to demonstrate English language improvement or face deportation.

His comments have caused widespread concern and criticism including from Baroness Warsi, John Prescott MP, Andy Burnham MP, Shabana Mahmood MP, Leader of the Lib Dems Tim Farron, Michael Rosen, Sally Hunt UCU General Secretary and more.

We should condemn these comments and call on David Cameron to restore ESOL funding and stop scapegoating Muslims.

We should promote the Action for ESOL Manifesto and hold meetings with local MPs and in our colleges and communities on it to restart a debate about what is required.

More urgently we have to unite to speak out and stop Islamophobia and scapegoating of Muslims in our schools, colleges and communities.

Join me on Wednesday.

What we want:

Mandy Brown
UCU London Regional (FE) Secretary
& Action for ESOL

* According to the Daily Mail, the PM’s proposal is that the women would be expected to have reached the A2 – elementary – level after two-and-a-half years, and B1 – intermediate – after five years.

Press

29 April: Planning meeting for UCU Anti-Casualisation Day 2014

Dear London Region colleague,

This year’s national Anti-Casualisation Day of Action is on 7 May.

At the last London Region meeting we agreed to build for a successful day.

We’ve organised a planning meeting for Tues 29th April at UCL.

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From your branch, could you get a couple of your most active casualised / hourly paid colleagues to the meeting, along with a branch rep? We hope this will be a good opportunity for casualised colleagues to meet each other, get more involved and build for a successful campaigning day on 7 May.

The meeting is Tues 29 April 6.00pm.
UCL, Room B15, Darwin Building, Malet Place, WC1E 6BT
A map is below.

How to find the Darwin Building, UCL

How to find the Darwin Building, UCL

Joint Union Rally and UCEA protest, 6 February

At London Met, Unison and UCU are rallying outside the Tower Building at 12 noon.

In the Bloomsbury area, colleagues will protest outside the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) HQ, Woburn House, Tavistock Sq at 1pm, to progress collectively to Conway Hall for the Rally.

  • The importance of the Region coming together for a united protest has increased since it was announced that a number of institutions in London – QMUL, UEL, Kingston and others – have threatened to make deductions of a whole day’s pay for the current two-hour strikes.
  • We need to make good on the slogan: An injury to one is an injury to all.
  • Fortunately, during a one-day strike, if not a two-hour one, it is possible for colleagues to come together between different colleges across London. The purpose of the rally is thus one of mutual solidarity and to mark the beginning of the next phase in our pay dispute.

DETAILS:

UCEA PROTEST:
Protest outside UCEA
Pay up – No pay docking!
1pm, outside Woburn House, Tavistock Square

RALLY DETAILS:
London Region Joint Union Rally
Fair Pay in HE!
2pm, Conway Hall, Red Lion Square

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