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The Open University branch of the University and College Union

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Motions passed at General meetings

OU UCU motions for UCU Congress, passed at our General meeting on 5th March 2019

Motion 1 Schoolchildren’s Strike and Education for Green Jobs
Congress expresses solidarity with the schoolchildren’s climate change strike and asks NEC to organise support from UCU for such action in future.

Congress welcomes Jeremy Corbyn’s commitment to create 400,000 green jobs to tackle climate change. This provides opportunities to implement a Just Transition agenda through the Greener Jobs Alliance (GJA).   

Future generations, both in jobs concerned with climate change and the wider workforce, need awareness of environmental issues and of producing in a carbon-neutral manner.  The post-16 education sector can contribute research, education and training to provide the knowledge basis for tackling climate change.

UCU will work with a Labour Government and environmental groups to develop research, courses and qualifications to support expansion of green jobs. These should replace high-carbon industries in a socially equitable way, so that solutions are not at the expense of the world’s most disadvantaged groups and peoples.

Proposed by Lesley Kane and Richard Bradbury
Seconded by Alison Penn

Motion 2 Governance Crisis in HE

Conference notes that 2018 and 2019 have seen several Vice-Chancellors and other senior figures in English universities resign under a cloud.

Conference believes these cases testify to the failure of a model of governance and of HE finance in which universities are run as businesses.

While each case has been different, common features have been a history of bullying and unacceptable pay differentials, and all have caused damage to their institutions and to Higher Education. Warnings by staff and unions that something was going seriously wrong have been ignored too often.

Conference asks HEC and its appropriate sub-committees to develop proposals for early warning systems as well as pressing for reform of HE governance and finance.

Conference also notes that the law may have been broken in some cases, and that the resignation of one or two senior figures should not prevent prosecution of those responsible.

Proposed by Lesley Kane
Seconded by Kit Power

Motion 3 REF2021 and redundancy

Conference notes that the UK HE funding bodies have bowed to pressure to allow universities to submit the work of former staff who have been made redundant in the REF2021.

If this decision is not reversed Conference asks the HEC to use Freedom of Information requests or other suitable means to find out which institutions do so, and to name and shame offending institutions.

Proposed by Lesley Kane
Seconded by Bruce Heil

OU UCU motions passed at our General meeting on 17th January 2019

The OU Branch of UCU calls upon the Vice Chancellor to take a pro-European stance to defend the OU against the threats of Brexit. Brexit would mean the opposite of a university that is open to people, places, methods and ideas. It will harm our ability to attract and retain international staff, damage our research, and restrict our ability to undertake first-rate academic work.

Therefore, this meeting agrees to support the OU Staff open letter to support a People’s Vote. This open letter gives us the opportunity to show our support and solidarity for our colleagues, as well as addressing the wider concerns that Brexit has for the HE sector.

Proposed: Matthew Hinton
Seconded: Kit Power

See: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScerQgzqlSrG1TS5aCIUktNgPzSHRa9g6MqdQosQpAItC4t_Q/viewform

OU UCU motions passed at our AGM on 15th November 2018

Motion 1
This Branch notes that the high fee regime in England has proved a serious restriction on the ability of unemployed and working people to take up part time higher education. As a result the mission of the OU to bring higher education to disadvantaged communities is being undermined.

The Branch agrees to approach OUSA and other anti-fee bodies for a joint campaign against the fee regime for part time students.

Proposed by: Bruce Heil
Seconded by: Hilary Partridge

Motion 2
The OU Branch of UCU calls upon the OU to protest publicly against the Immigration policy and checks being imposed by the current Home office.  This complex web of policies and documentation is a major obstacle to HE’s access to international debate and research.  HE is not an appropriate mechanism for effectively delivering the immigration checks, according to their own stated aims.  These policies are designed to make employers and institutions complicit in the Conservative government’s ‘hostile environment’ for migrants.  The ‘right to work’ processes being implemented by the OU’s HR Department function as control and surveillance mechanisms on staff.  The Conservative government’s hostile environment threatens to criminalise migrants and refugees and the academics and institutions that host them.

Proposed by: John James
Seconded by: Paula James

OU UCU motions passed at the General meeting on 31st October 2018

Motion 2
This conference notes:

  1. the obstacles posed by the 50% threshold, which the OU and some other branches missed by a very narrow margin in the recent HE pay ballot.
  2. the attempt by some employers to interfere with the democratic process
  3. that other unions are also seriously affected

This conference asks our national officials:

  1. to intensify political campaigning against the 50% threshold, preferably with other unions.
  2. to obtain legal advice as to the prospects of success for such a legal challenge citing potential breach of human rights

Proposed by: Lesley Kane

Motion 3
Conference notes:
That many branches missed by a very narrow margin the 50% threshold required under current TU legislation to enable legal industrial action.
 
The average percentage of Yes votes across HE institutions are:

  • 66.7% members voted for strike action
  • 78.96% of members voted for ASOS

Conference calls on the HEC to reflect on the pay ballot outcome and specifically to consider the:

  1. timing of ballot opening and preparing members in advance
  2. coordination between national and local activity
  3. reasons why some branches achieved much higher participation than others.

Conference asks the HEC to consider re-balloting all branches where there is a realistic chance of getting a 50% turnout.
 
Conference calls on the national UCU to consider a legal challenge to this undemocratic legislation, preferably in conjunction with the TUC and other interested trades unions.
 
Conference resolves:

  • To continue to campaign vigorously on workload, casualization and gender pay gap issues – these have the full support of our members.

Proposed by John James
 

OU UCU motions passed at the General meeting on 17th September 2018

Motion 1: Solidarity with TGI Friday strikers

This committee wishes to express solidarity with, and best wishes for, the TGI staff striking over unfair wages and tip distribution. We fully support these trade unionists in their struggle for fairer pay conditions.
Proposed by Kit Power
Seconded by Caroline Holland

Motion 2: Deportation of family members

This committee wishes to record its shock and dismay at the news that a member of the OU community is having to fight a deportation order for her daughters. We support her fight to keep her daughters in the UK, and ask the branch executive committee and the university to actively pursue ways we can offer additional support.
Proposed by Kit Power

Motion 3: Jim Newall

This branch notes that:

  • on 12 June 2018, the University of Salford dismissed Jim Newell as professor of politics after 27 years’ service on grounds of an alleged failure to achieve a series of targets, set by the University unilaterally, and applied retroactively in that they were introduced only sometime after his promotion;
  • a fundamental principle of the rule of law is that a person cannot be found guilty by applying laws introduced only after the event.

This branch believes that the targets Jim Newell is alleged to have failed to meet reflect a business model of the university which is incompatible with academic freedom because it removes the security of employment academics must have in order to be able to engage in criticism and enquiry without fear or favour.

This branch further notes that Jim Newell’s situation confirms a more widespread trend that is damaging to the health and well-being of University staff throughout the UK. The branch therefore demands that the University of Salford reinstate Jim Newell with immediate effect. 
This branch also calls upon members to sign the petition (www.change.org/p/prof-helen-marshall-reinstate-jim-newell-to-his-job-as-professor-of-politics-at-the-university-of-salford) demanding that he be reinstated.
Proposed by Hilary Partridge
Seconded by Caitlin Adams