UCL-UCU: *reminder* General Meeting Thursday 19 May, 1-2 pm

17 May 2022

Next stages in USS and 4 Fights disputes + local motions for debate

This is a reminder for our Extraordinary General Meeting, Thursday 17 May, 1-2 pm, to consider the next stages in the Four Fights and USS disputes and discuss local motions (see Appendix 1). 

We have invited speakers from Goldsmiths and Queen Mary UCU, and from the IWGB campaign for insourcing UCL security staff.

Goldsmiths and Queen Mary UCU branches take action

Goldsmiths UCU has commenced a marking boycott in opposition to 52 redundancies. This comes after 16 academic staff and many PS staff have had redundancy letters on what the union believes to be arbitrary grounds. Trade union reps appear to be targeted.

Queen Mary UCU is coming to the end of a further 10 days of strike action after their employer threatened members with continuous 100% pay docking for refusing to reschedule lectures - a first in the sector. Management have threatened 100% pay docking for a marking boycott, reinforcing their ‘hard line’ stance.

Both UCU branches have taken action alongside their national disputes and are asking colleagues to make donations to their hardship funds.

This is not just about what happens at Goldsmiths & QMU. Across the country, other universities are looking to make large-scale redundancies with De Montfort University (Leicester) targeting 58 posts, and Wolverhampton shutting undergraduate and Masters programmes.

"Bring Them In!" Campaigns for insourcing UCL staff

We continue to support the campaigns by both UCL Unison and IWGB to bring outsourced cleaning, catering, and security workers back in-house. Today our Unison colleagues rallied in the Quad to launch their campaign to "Bring Them In!"

The case for doing so is simple: basic fairness and equality, and integration into the UCL university workplace community.

Throughout the pandemic, these colleagues kept UCL’s doors open, students safe and fed, and buildings clean. But they are still outsourced to private contractors and employed on worse contracts and lower pay than when staff were directly employed by UCL.

UCL has begun discussions with Unison to bring staff in-house, but only when the current contracts expire. In the meantime, UCL they say they have equalised pay and benefits, but the workers dispute this. They say the widespread use of ‘zero hour’ contracts have allowed the ‘middlemen’ contracting companies to keep pay levels low, with many staff on the London Living Wage absolute minimum of £11.05 an hour, compared to pre-outsourcing days when security staff could take home £15 an hour from UCL. The Cost of Living crisis is hitting outsourced workers particularly hard.

In 2019, we took strike action and marched alongside colleagues represented by the IWGB union. We believe all outsourced staff should be brought in-house as soon as possible.

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Appendix 1 - Branch motions proposed for debate

Branch Motion 1 - For consistency on BDS

UCL UCU notes:

  1. Legislation in UK rendering Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaigns unlawful for public bodies unless consistent with Government policy.
  2. The B’Tselem, Yesh Din, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch reports, as well as the Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Occupied Territories designating the situation there as one of apartheid, and highlighting systematic Israeli anti-Palestinian discrimination - widespread seizures of Palestinian land and property, unlawful killings, forcible transfer, drastic movement restrictions, and the denial of citizenship;
  3. The designation of 11 Palestinian human rights organisations as ‘terrorist’ by the Israeli state;
  4. The Israeli Ministry of Defence intention to isolate Palestinian universities, undermining Higher Education (and academic freedom) by limiting the number and disciplinary specialisms of foreign scholars permitted work visas;
  5. Trade union support for protest forms, such as BDS, in the UK as means of opposing the occupation of Ukraine.
  6. Calls for institutional boycotts of state-funded academic institutions in Russia as a response to the occupation of Ukraine and war crimes.

UCL UCU believes:

  1. Boycotts and divestment campaigns in relation to institutional ties with Russian state-sponsored academic institutions are legitimate forms of protest and opposition to the occupation of Ukraine;
  2. By consistency, BDS campaigns are legitimate forms of protest and opposition to other violent occupations and violations of civilian populations’ human rights.

UCL UCU resolves:

To mandate its Congress delegates to support Dundee University UCU motion SFC21, calling on UCU to:

a.  join the campaign against anti-BDS legislation;

b.  make forceful representations to the Israeli Embassy, affirming Palestinian universities’ membership of the global scholarly community;

c. reaffirm Congress’ 2010 opinion on BDS and academic boycott;

d.  immediately invite all members to consider, given reported crimes against humanity, the moral and political consequences of any relationship with Israeli institutions.

Branch Motion 2 - For a UCL UCU climate emergency / sustainability network

UCL UCU notes:

  1. The most recent IPCC report published in April highlights how action to tackle the cause of the global climate emergency is now urgently required.
  2. That the global climate crisis is an issue for all workers, connected as it is with issues of differences in wealth between nations and peoples, inequality, and workers' rights.
  3. Sustainability & Climate emergency issues have not been significantly addressed by the branch to any measurable effect over the past year, and there is more the branch can do on Sustainability & Environment issues to shift the focus to positive action.
  4. There are many staff at UCL engaged in related activities with sustainability and climate change and the resulting differences between rich and poor countries, who can be drawn into UCU related activities through activism on this issue.
  5. The remit of the Environment Officer is a broad one and requires additional support from the local branch.

UCL UCU resolves to establish a climate emergency / sustainability activist network to develop and campaign and build UCU action on this issue.