Support Douglas Chalmers as Vice President HE

Douglas Chalmers, candidate for Vice President in the current NEC elections gave a video interview for UCUAgenda on what he could deliver for the union if successfully elected.

In the video interview, a union colleague asks him his views on how our union can grow in the current difficult times, what his vision is for the union as a whole, where he stands on Brexit, whether F.E. is served well by the union, and where he positions himself politically. The interview lasts for just over 10 minutes.

Douglas would be happy to answer any questions on his views and can be contacted at: douglas@ucucaledonian.com

A leaflet outlining his views can be downloaded here

NEC Elections 2017 – Vote for a strong, united and independent union

The independent broad left (IBL) is a network of like-minded UCU members who tend to have shared views on issues crucial to our union. We are firm in our belief that repeatedly calling for national strike action, regardless of circumstances or members’ views, is the wrong strategy, misleading and counterproductive.

UCU needs to act in the interests of all members – not just the few

In these uncertain times of national and international upheaval we need a leadership that continues to focus on members’ core concerns of professionalism and pay & conditions. We do not need a ‘UCU LEFT/ Socialist Workers Party’ backed leadership with a political agenda often set by external organisations, bent on empty militant posturing and a culture of blame

UCU needs a leadership with current, credible and relevant experience.

Vote Sally Hunt for UCU General Secretary

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Re-elect Sally Hunt as General Secretary

We believe that Sally is by far the best candidate for this crucial role, given her successful track record as UCU’s General Secretary, her professionalism and her commitment to national and international trade unionism. We agree with her intent to further develop and strengthen support for members and branches and to give members even more say in shaping union priorities. She will ensure elected committees have credible & deliverable plans for industrial action and make UCU more relevant to young staff – the next generation of members.

Vote Douglas Chalmers for UCU Vice President

Douglas Chalmers - a candidate with a record for the job

Douglas Chalmers – a candidate with a record for the job

Currently  President of UCU Scotland with much active experience as branch officer, caseworker and national negotiator, Douglas speaks for us all when he says that most members [whether HE, FE, Adult Education or Prison Educators] want to be able to provide a good comprehensive education service and receive proper professional recognition and reward for doing it. Members need their union to prioritise protecting their jobs, their terms and conditions and not seek conflict for the sake of it.

Vote Steve Sangwine for UCU Treasurer

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Steve Sanguine – ready to hit the ground running

Based on his professional background in computer science and computational mathematics and his in-depth local and national UCU experience, we agree with Steve that, given the current political climate,  UCU really needs a numerate treasurer, who is experienced in complex legal and financial matters and can ‘hit the ground running’

 

 

Vote for a member-led leadership

IBL believes that members deserve better than being told what they should, could or must think. Leadership is about making decisions through listening and consulting with all members.

ALL members from ALL sectors are entitled to vote for the above 3 candidates – PLEASE USE YOUR VOTE

IBL also suggests you support the following candidates:

Trustees: Randy Banks; Alastair Hunter; Philip Burgess

UK Elected HE: Julie Charlton, Michael McKrell; Dominique Lauterburg

UK Elected FE: Anya Cook

Representative LGBT: Ryan Prout

Midlands HE: David Ridley; Justin Mercer

Midlands FE: Simon Bruce-Jones; John Sullivan

North East FE (By-election): Richard Bathgate

Southern HE: Pauline Collins,  Denis Nicole

For further information, contact: IBLcontactaddress@gmail.com

To download the above information in leaflet form: click here

HELP SAVE CHESHIRE CAMPUS

crewe-campus2

SIGN THE PETITION PLEASE

“Manchester Metropolitan University has informed all staff at MMU Cheshire of proposals for changes including the possibility of the permanent closure of the campus.
At a meeting in June this year the University’s Board of Governors and the Vice Chancellor ruled out the option of ‘business as usual’.  Managers have stressed their commitment to existing students enrolled on courses at Crewe, including to the quality of their experience of studying at MMU. 
There are just three options now under consideration: a reduced ‘focused’ presence on the existing site; a move to a Crewe town centre site, possibly in conjunction with new educational partners; and closure.  All options have extremely serious implications not only for the future of the Higher Education offer in the vicinity, but for current academic and support staff jobs.
The University has so far refused to rule out compulsory redundancies. 
UCU is opposed to compulsory redundancy and regional and branch officers have made this policy clear in every meeting with managers.   
The University Executive Group has commissioned a report by consultants Deloitte into the viability of a number of options and assessing the current operating position.  As part of the compilation of that report, Deloitte and Senior University staff conducted a process of informal consultation with staff, student reps and some local political bodies and businesses, although this did not include consulting on the possibility of the continued operation of the Crewe Campus as it is currently configured. No members of staff at Crewe has so far been informed that they may be made redundant.
The UCU branch at MMU is asking for you to sign our petition in support of the case for Crewe which we intend to present to the University’s Vice Chancellor and Governors in mid-November.  If you have a direct connection with MMU Cheshire, please don’t forget to add this to your signature. 

http://speakout.web.ucu.org.uk/save-manchester-metropolitan-university-cheshire-campus/ 

Please send messages of support to:

Julie Wilkinson – J.Wilkinson@mmu.ac.uk

 

Strengthening not retreating

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Talking truth to power. But what are the next steps to win the battle?

The HEC at its last meeting took a decision to pause industrial action and conduct an indicative ballot of HE members on the way forward. Here are some points from the Independent Broad Left Network regarding the next stage in the battle to achieve better pay, close the gender pay gap and end casualisation.

It would be easy but mistaken to see the decision taken by HEC on 14 October to pause industrial action on the 2016 pay offer while conducting an indicative ballot of HE members as a retreat. Looking at the achievements and difficulties of our pay dispute, and at the political and economic situation in which we have to go forward, HEC has chosen to move to decisions about next steps which will be informed by the judgement of the people who will actually have to implement them about what will achieve the most for us all.

Making tough choices
We are proud of what members have already put into the dispute, and confident that they will give serious and intelligent consideration to the risks and possibilities of seriously sustained industrial action this autumn. There is wide agreement that we have had an unsatisfactory offer from the employers, and that there is considerable appetite for continued campaigning on the gender pay gap and on casualisation issues, but real uncertainty as to whether industrial action at this particular moment will produce positive results. The HEC recognised that in considering the direction of the current dispute, members needed to be clear that any future pay campaign would be conducted under the new ballot threshold imposed by the Trade Union Act. Tackling pay erosion in future may be much more challenging, with early career colleagues especially likely to suffer the consequences in the medium to long term

Working together
As experienced activists we all understand that industrial action is a means to achieve change, not an end in itself, and that we owe it to ourselves to assess its possible dangers as well as its possible opportunities. Successful action is based on strong support and participation, and on confidence that there are reasonable prospects for the action. Since ‘the union’ is no more or less than all of us, it makes sense to involve all of us in building that support and confidence

Fighting smart and fighting strong
In taking the decision to hold a consultative ballot HEC is working constructively with members by asking them to make an informed judgement about how best we can all work together to make progress in very difficult circumstances. We are not retreating, but strengthening the trust, good sense, and ability to deal with tough situations, on which the effectiveness of union campaigns always depends.

 

Colleagues who have comments on this can get in touch and let us know your views by contacting: unionadmin@ucuagenda.com

Convention on Higher Education looks at strategy to defeat HE Bill

 

UCU NEC member and President of UCU Scotland, Douglas Chalmers, took time out to attend the 3rd Convention on Higher Education, following the last HEC in London. Here are his impressions of this useful meeting

Malia Bouattia: "Those who say it cannot be done, are usually interrupted by those doing it"

Malia Bouattia: “Those who say it cannot be done, are usually interrupted by those doing it”

An audience of up to a 100 listened to speakers at the 3rd Convention for Higher Education in UCL’s Darwin lecture theatre today where educational experts, UCU activists  and others condemned the proposals in the UK government’s Higher Education and Research Bill.

John Holmwood opened events by a devastating critique of the proposals, declaring that ‘it’s the nature of the public university that’s at the heart of this discussion’. Member of the House of Lords and professor of public sector management at Kings College London, Baroness Alison Wolf,  went on to condemn the flimsy ‘cod’ market economics underpinning the proposals,  pointing out that what she called a ‘very underdeveloped form of economic thinking’ had come to dominate the debate’ which was ‘ a genuine step in the wrong direction’.

Martin McQuillan of Kingston University pointed out that the whole fees debacle which would now be exacerbated was a ‘question of intergenerational justice’, and he castigated the universities for being ‘on the wrong side of the public debate’.

Amber Rudd’s proposals to cut international students to all but Russell group universities were roundly condemned by all speakers – as were the efforts by some in the Russell group itself to lobby in support of these divisive proposals.

Malia Bouattia, NUS president suggested that the prospect of ‘market exits’ by some of the proposed new providers which would fail (as some inevitably would), might be seen by Teresa May as a sign that the ‘market was working well’.

She finished by saying the proposals could still be defeated, and quoted James Baldwin in saying “Those who say it cannot be done are usually interrupted by those doing it”

The conference also heard and condemned the current situation at London Met university, and also spent a useful session looking at the joint work that could be done in different areas, to help weaken the Bill and work towards defeating it.

 

Practical sessions mixed FAQs and ideas for future action

Practical sessions mixed FAQs and ideas for future action

The website for the Convention on Higher Education can be found here, and useful resources such as a letter writing pack, found here

UCU President’s Perspective

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Rob Goodfellow, a lecturer at Hull College was recently elected as President of UCU for 2016 – 2017.
Between spots at the rostrum of this year’s TUC, where he presented UCU’s view on post 16 education he took some time out to talk about his views on all things UCU. Interview by Scottish UCU President and NEC member Douglas Chalmers, and thanks to Julia Charlton for helping with the filming.

“We’ve made an impact at the TUC – everyone who wanted to speak on a motion did so. If we hadn’t been here….. less people would have been ‘educated’ ”.

This view of Rob Goodfellow, half in jest, encapsulated the feeling of the UCU delegates to the TUC in Brighton this year. Speaking on a whole range of issues from Post-16 Education, the European Union, Professional Status, to Challenging the Politics of Hate, our delegation made a very positive impact both from the rostrum and in our networking between times.

NEC member Julia Charlton spoke on immigration, HE Vice President elect Joanna de Groot spoke on the European Union, Vicki Knight, VP spoke on Prison Education, NEC member Pauline Collins spoke on the need for people to work smarter, not just longer, and Vicky Blake from the UCU’s anti-casualisation committee, asked a question about the TUC’s work on casualization and Douglas Chalmers moved a successful emergency motion on Colombia.

Between appearances at the rostrum, Rob took some time out to give his views on a range of issues UCU will encounter under his presidency (Interview 12 mins long).

In England, for H.E, a priority for the union had to be the White Paper – which allowed private providers to operate a ‘smash and grab’ – taking profits and disappearing, leaving taxpayers to clear up the mess and help students affected.

In F.E,  the area reviews were essentially just a means to save money “but it’s a paltry sum, but will have a huge impact on staff, on students and on the local communities”

A key question that post 16 education had to answer was “how far a distance would be travelled by a student and their families” while on their educational journey – “that’s not measured in league tables”

In terms of his own role, Rob saw the President’s job to be to safeguard the democracy of the union, while the union had to take some pragmatic choices.

In terms of the ‘culture’ of the union – making  Congress better in terms of its own culture and practice? “I want branches to see what’s in it for them – get them engaged by sending resolutions and delegates. If it’s a case of two blocs voting I don’t want that anymore than anyone else does”…

Sally Hunt

UCU Gen. Secretary Sally Hunt talked against ‘The politics of Hate’

 

 

 

 

 

Last day… but not least

Broadcast logo

Friday’s copy of Broadcast can be downloaded here

Although this is the last day of Congress, it’s by no means the least important. As well as giving Congress the chance to demonstrate UCU’s solidarity with  Malia Bouattia, president-elect of the National Union of Students, and the first black and the first Muslim to hold that post – in which she has already suffered Islamophobic media attacks, and totally unjustified allegations of antisemitism, there are also important issues of rules and finance to be decided upon.

It is not our intention on the issues of finance and rules to give voting advice on all motions – although we point out some issues in Broadcast relating to some of the proposals before congress. We note that it’s to the credit of the Treasurer and the staff advising her that the finances are in a robust situation and this should be acknowledged and applauded. With some exceptions we would simply advise listening to the arguments in the debate.

One motion, however, which we suggest must be passed is 55, on model branch rules, (with or without amendment 55A). There have been bitter arguments on this topic at previous Congresses, and now we are essentially back to the situation at merger. These are of course, only model rules, and a number of branches may need to seek variations. But, given the current climate, we believe it is essential for the union’s protection that all branches have rules of this nature in place, and that they are lodged with the national office.

On the other hand, motion 56 from Yorkshire & Humberside Regional Committee would set a dangerous precedent with regard to the status of elected members of our national committees. The rules state that members must be, or have recently been, in qualifying employment in order to be nominated for the NEC. They do not require NEC members to resign if they subsequently retire – and that is because they are elected to represent a constituency of members who are employed, and they could themselves become re-employed. In the HEC, there has been a convention that members in USS branches do not vote on TPS matters, and vice versa; but the arguments for that are not strong, since all HE constituencies comprise members in both pension schemes – who are disefranchised if their elected HEC member cannot vote. Motion 56 would extend that disenfrachisement, and it would be the start of cake-slicing: for example, should only NEC members from the various equality strands be allowed to vote on matters relating to those strands? We think not.

As always – points of view on the above are welcome. And if anyone would like to submit a ‘think-piece’ or opinion piece on something that they think should be part of the ‘UCU Agenda’ – please do so to: unionadmin@ucuagenda.com

Build the Fight against the HE Bill and an effective fightback in FE

Fight vs HE Bill

Download Thursday’s copy of HE Sector Broadcast here and Thursday’s copy of FE sector Broadcast here

The determination of our union to fight against the Green Paper/ White Paper/Bill has already been shown at several fringes during congress, and 13 of our motions today in the HE Sector conference will look at how best to oppose this, and ultimately defeat it.

There are clearly some good motions here which will take the fight forward by developing the understanding of our members, students and the wider communities, and clearly there is everything to play for. However we suggest that there are a couple of points that conference should be wary of endorsing as they lack the specific details needed for a successful fightback – we give our suggestions in Broadcast.

It is to be expected that not everyone will agree on the strategy and tactics necessary to successfully win a substantial pay increase, and this disagreement shows in the resolutions tabled.

Members need to be congratulated however for what they have done so far, and given every encouragement to engage in tougher and sustained activity and sanctions, should they prove necessary.

However, what is most important is that Conference comes out of this debate with a united policy to take to both the employers and members. Statements which demean in members’ eyes the leadership of the HEC and the negotiators, and the action that members are already taking, actually undermine the union’s ability to pursue the dispute successfully. 

Today’s opinion piece in HE Sector Broadcast – on Health Educators is by Paul Errington a Health Educator himself at Teeside and an incoming member of the NEC.

Turning to the FE conference it is clear that the high quality motions on many of the issues from the 2015/16 pay claim, through the blight of the gender pay gap –  and the absence of equality monitoring on to the devastating effect of the area reviews, the cuts to ESOL, the Prevent agenda, and the de-professionalisation of the lecturer’s role, all show that our members are active and concerned on these key issues affecting the sector. It promises to be a high quality debate on these questions. The pay issue is one where differing opinions on the way forward exist. We suggest that calling for ‘national’ strike action on the question of ‘pay’ over and over again is however, the wrong strategy – it’s misleading and counterproductive. There is a way to organise, build and support confident, campaigning and unified branches and FE Sector Broadcast suggests some ways we can achieve this.

Elsewhere in each Sector Broadcast you’ll find the Independent Broad Left Network’s general take on some of the other key issues Congress looks at today. As a network, we don’t have a ‘party line’ on policy, and unlike Monty Python neither are we looking for the Holy Grail. So let us know what you think – e-mail unionadmin@ucuagenda.com

 

Congress 2016 – A Time of Danger, a Time of Opportunity

Liverpool ArenaLiverpool Echo Arena and BT Convention Centre (El Pollock) / CC BY-SA 2.0

Download Wednesday’s  copy of broadcast here
Congress is meeting at a time when the Conservative government is clearly experiencing a whole range of crises – something that means both dangers and opportunities for the trade union movement, the UCU included.

Dangers, because the Trade Union Act, despite concessions still sets out to weaken our movement, dangers also for UCU members in FE, because of the area reviews and mergers being rolled out. And dangers for HE members in the Green Paper/ White paper proposals.

But there are opportunities too, because the government is in crisis as shown by the dearth of new ‘big ideas’ in the recent Queen’s Speech, and even in the concessions forced within the anti-TU Bill.

All these, and more, show that the government is weak and that means opportunities for the TU movement, but only by working in a strategic way to overcoming our weaknesses.

In today’s Broadcast read Joanna de Groot’s opinion piece on the importance of implementing our policies in a way that involves members,  plus ‘A view from Scotland’ by UCUS President Douglas Chalmers, plus ‘Northern Ireland at the Crossroads’ – an opinion piece from Mike Larkin,  NEC member for HE in Northern Ireland.

As well as that, you’ll also find the IBL network’s general ‘take’ on some of the issues to come up today. Let us know what you think – unionadmin@ucuagenda.com

Maybe interested in the Independent Broad Left Network in UCU?

Monty Python had it right

….. “Are you the Judean People’s Front?    ###k off – we’re the People’s Front of Judea”

Well we’re the Independent Broad Left Network in UCU and as well as some good ideas for the union, we’ve also got a sense of humour. Why not come along, have a drink, in one of Liverpool’s most historic pubs, find out more, and let us know what you think?

Grpahic network 1

Hope to see you there!