UCL UCU: Requested EGM To discuss confirming and reinforcing the message of solidarity with Ukraine

14 June 2023

Dear Colleague 

This is to give you notice of a requested EGM on the above topic.

We have received a request by 29 members of the branch to hold an EGM on this topic (the requisitioners are listed in Appendix 1 below). The branch rules allow for the requisition of a meeting on a ‘topic’ (rule 14) when 25 or more people request this. The officers of the branch must schedule a meeting within 10 working days of the request, and give notice to members at least 5 days before the date of the meeting. The request came in on Friday 9th June, but at 5.45pm (after working hours), and the submission date is official Monday 12 June.

We are hereby giving notice of this EGM to take place on Friday 23 June at 13.00-14.00.

This meeting is for UCL UCU members only. You can now register for this meeting.

A motion has been submitted together with the meeting request. This is in Appendix 2 below. Appendix 3 contains the Congress motions to which this refers.

Any member of the branch may submit a motion on this topic or amendments to motions on the topic.

To this end, we are setting Monday 19 June (5.30pm) as the deadline for additional motions. We will circulate any of these at that point. Any amendments to any motion should be submitted by Weds 21 June at 10am, and we will circulate those on the same day.

Please submit motions and amendments to ucu@ucl.ac.uk with the subject line: EGM 23/06/23 Motion/Amendment (delete as appropriate).

[Please remember we also have an AGM on Thursday 22 June (13.00-14.30) and catering will be provided]

UCL UCU Executive Committee

Appendix 1

List of requisitioners of the meeting: 

  1. Sima Beeri, 

  2. Daniel Brett, 

  3. Pawel Bukowski, Jelena Calic, 

  4. Serian Carlyle, 

  5. Alinda Damsma, 

  6. Pete Duncan, 

  7. Christian Emery 

  8. Bettina Friedrich 

  9. Niall Geraghty 

  10. Sonia Gollance 

  11. Ramona Gonczol 

  12. Eric Gordy 

  13. François Guesnet 

  14. Seán Hanley 

  15. Tessa Hauswedell 

  16. Mukesh Hindocha 

  17. Lily Kahn

  18. Anna Koch

  19. Ben Noble

  20. Benet Salway 

  21. Alexander Samson 

  22. Christine Sas 

  23. Willem Smelik 

  24. Aglaya Snetkov 

  25. Sacha Stern 

  26. Sherrill Stroschein 

  27. Eszter Tarsoly 

  28. Riitta Valijarvi 

  29. Sarah Young 

Appendix 2

Motion: Solidarity with Ukraine, reject UCU Congress motion no. 5

-  That since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion in Ukraine in February 2022 (preceded by its annexation of Crimea and invasion into Eastern Ukraine in 2014), the world has witnessed repeated evidence of Russia’s atrocities on occupied Ukrainian territory, recognized by the International Criminal Court as war crimes, as well as the displacement of millions of innocent civilians, and environmental devastation.
-  That more specifically, as of the beginning of May 2023, this Russian aggression towards Ukraine has destroyed or damaged more than 2500 educational establishments including institutions of higher learning and more than 900 medical establishments.
-  That at a General Meeting of UCL UCU on March 31, 2022, a motion was passed stating that UCL UCU stands united in our condemnation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and declares its support fo the human rights of those under occupation or suffering oppression.
-  That the same General Meeting defeated a motion proposing an equidistance between Russia, the aggressor, and Ukraine, and framing the Russian attack as the outcome of NATO expansion.
-  That in late May 2023 UCU Congress passed by a big majority motion (no. 6) stating that it stands united in its condemnation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and declares our support for the human rights of those under occupation or suffering oppression.
-  That in late May 2023 UCU Congress also passed, by a majority of only 9 votes, a widely condemned motion (no. 5) repeating the false claims of an alleged NATO expansion as the cause of the war and calling for UCU to support a position whereby Ukrainians are deprived of adequate means for self-defence, and thus left vulnerable to being kidnapped, tortured, raped or bombed in their homes by the Russian armed forces.
-  That this same motion features a common antisemitic trope by including an entirely gratuitous point associating the Ukrainian president, Israel, and the US.
-  That in a letter from union members at UCL SSEES dated 31 May 2023 to UCL General Secretary Jo Grady, these colleagues stress the damage done by the passing of motion no. 5 at UCL Congress, and the fact that many UCU members have decided to leave UCU because of it.

-  That the Russian Federation should immediately cease fighting and withdraw its forces. If Russia stops fighting, there will be no war. If Ukraine stops fighting, there will be no Ukraine.
-  That allowing Russia to fulfil its demands, even partially, will create further instability in the Eastern Europe, and will signal to the aggressor that such actions may remain unpunished.
-  That Ukraine is lawfully exercising its right to self-defence, according to the Charter of the United Nations.
-  That military aid to assist Ukrainian self-defence saves lives. Stopping it would appease the aggressor. Hesitating and delaying it prolongs the war and brings more losses and suffering.
 -  The UCU Congress motion no. 5 is ill-informed, discriminatory, and does not reflect the branch majority views of the branch. It equates the victim and the aggressor, denies Ukraine’s agency, and only helps the Kremlin’s propaganda.
-  That the debate on this important issue did not include proper representation of the Ukrainian perspective and did not facilitate an informed discussion, which is a core feature of academia.
-  That the UCU Congress motion no. 5 damages the union’s ability to undertake its core mission by taking energy and focus away from the current disputes, angering members, causing colleagues to leave the union.
-  That the passing of UCU Congress motion no. 5 has done considerable reputational damage to UCU.
 - To condemn the unprovoked and unjustified military aggression of Russia against Ukraine.
-  To support the provision of Ukraine with any form of aid that it needs, including military aid, humanitarian aid, and tougher political and economic sanctions against Russia.
-  To consider possible cooperation and affiliation with the Ukrainian Solidarity Campaign.
-  To engage with the Ukrainian community in the UK, including Ukrainian academics hosted by British universities, and ensure adequate representation of Ukrainian voices.
-  To state opposition to the UCU Congress motion, and to call upon UCU to revise and recall it.
-  To follow in our activities the suggestions of the Ukraine Peace Appeal towards a more informed solidarity (https://www.ukrainepeaceappeal2023.info/), and to call for its wider support by UCU.
-  To call on UCU to denounce the devastating impact of the Russian aggression on Ukrainian institutions of higher education more forcefully.
-  To call on UCU to energetically support solidarity with Ukraine in general, and in particular with colleagues working in higher education (as academics or in professional services) and students, whether in Ukraine itself, or displaced as a result of the war, or those within the wider Ukrainian diaspora.
-  To support initiatives at UCL supporting displaced Ukrainian colleagues and students and aiming at the reconstruction of Ukrainian institutions of higher education.
-  To call on UCU to review and change the governance procedures relating to the avoidance of discriminatory wording or framing in motions (more generally, and specifically here), and the procedures that resulted in passing the UCU Congress motion.
-  To send this motion to London Region UCU, without the sections specifically concerning the UCL branch, for adoption by the region.

Proposed: Francois Guesnet

Appendix 3

Full text of motions (5 and 6) on Ukraine passed at congress:

Congress Motion 5

Composite: Stop the War in Ukraine – peace now. 
City and Islington College Camden Road, University of Brighton, Grand Parade

Congress notes:

1. One year after the brutal invasion, Ukraine has become a battleground for Russian and US imperialism.
2. It is estimated that 150,000 Ukrainian soldiers and civilians and 200,000 Russian soldiers have died since invasion.
3. Putin has threatened the use of nuclear weapons and unleashed war crimes.
4. The 2022 NATO summit committed to a US military base in Poland, a brigade in Romania, air missile systems in Italy and Germany and two additional F-35 squadrons in Britain.
5. Volodymyr Zelensky says he wants Ukraine to become a “big Israel”—an armed, illiberal outpost of US imperialism.

Congress believes:

a. Wars are fought by the poor and unemployed of one country killing and maiming the poor and unemployed of another.
b. We should say, “Russian troops out, no to NATO escalation and expansion.”
c. We should stand in solidarity with ordinary Ukrainians and demand an immediate withdrawal of Russian troops.
d. NATO is not a progressive force: escalation risks widening war in the region.
e. Only through a peaceful resolution can lives be saved.


i. UCU to call upon Russian to withdraw its troops and for government to stop arming Ukraine.
ii. UCU to call for a peaceful resolution to the war.
iii. Congress resolves to support protests called by Stop The War, CND and other anti-war organisations.

Congress Motion 6

Solidarity with Ukraine: supporting education and humanitarian work
National executive committee


1. Condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
2. Recognises Ukraine’s right to self determination
3. Notes courageous work of Russian anti-war activists and journalists despite state oppression and personal risk
4. Condemns all manifestations of imperialism
5. Reaffirms UCU’s commitments to international solidarity; protecting human rights, workers’ rights, education for all; defending and promoting rights of all displaced people, all fleeing conflict

Congress resolves to:

Campaign for:
a. The UK government to waive visa restrictions and provide safe routes for all refugees and asylum seekers
b. Full college / university scholarships for all refugees and asylum seekers
c. Cancellation of Ukraine’s national debt

Task the International Working Group to:
i. Develop, and widely publicise programmes of practical solidarity work based on  this motion and UCU’s humanitarian and education policies, including online meetings inviting Ukrainian trade unionists and feminists
ii. Foster links to support international labour movement activists, educators, and Students
iii. Support Russian workers, educators, students and activists who oppose war.