The Open University branch of the University and College Union
Members will have received an email recently from Sally Hunt, the UCU General Secretary, indicating that at the recent Congress there were walk-outs by staff of the union. The staff objected to two motions that were to be debated. One was to censure the General Secretary and one was to call for the resignation of the General Secretary. The General Secretary is a Unite member and Unite were of the view that Congress could not debate these motions.
Congress delegates were overwhelmingly of the view (and this view was shared by our OU delegation) that there is an issue of democracy. The General Secretary is an elected member and thus should be accountable to the membership. Whether we would have supported either motion is not relevant. The issue was whether the motions could be debated. Whilst of course respecting the right of Unite to defend their members, we regarded the issue of union democracy as key here.
As a result of Congress continuing to agree that the motions could be debated, Unite members walked out on the final day. Congress therefore finished early without completing its business.
We did have a very successful day on the middle day, Thursday, debating Higher Education issues.
There will need to be a ‘Recall Congress’ to complete the unfinished business. However, before that happens, the National Executive of UCU will need to resolve this issue of the dispute with Unite.
We wanted to make it clear that our delegation saw this matter as one of union democracy, and we await resolution at a national level.
Sue Cowgill, Bruce Heil, Caroline Holland, Friday Jones and Kit Power