The Open University branch of the University and College Union
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
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
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
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
This conference notes:
This conference asks our national officials:
Proposed by: Lesley Kane
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:
Conference calls on the HEC to reflect on the pay ballot outcome and specifically to consider the:
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.
Proposed by John James
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:
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