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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 motion passed at the General meeting on 4th May 2023 

AL Community and Representation

This meeting notes:

  1. The unilateral decision by the university to wind up AL Assemby/AL Executive (ALA/ALE) without genuine consultation and without acceptable alternative arrangements for AL representation. The replacement of elected bodies with unelected ones is of particular concern. 
  2. The suggestion that the Associate Lecturer Common Room (ALCR) may be closed. The ALCR reduces the isolation felt by ALs as homeworkers, allows communication with colleagues in other faculties, and is often a source of advice and information for individual staff. 
  3. The timing of (1) and (2) suggest that some senior managers think it would be convenient to deny ALs a voice at a point when there are operational problems with workload allocation and attempts to resolve university financial problems by redefining AL workload norms and the annualised total FTE.

This meeting asks branch officers and reps to be mindful of the connection between (1), (2) and (3) above, and oppose the untimely winding up of ALA/ALE and any attempt to close down the ALCR.

OU UCU motion passed at the General meeting on 23rd March 2023 

Proposed merger of WELS and FBL
This branch notes:  
That VCE announced a proposed merger of WELS and FBL on March 6th to affected staff. There are three possible outcomes: no action; moving to three faculties with the merger and no changes to STEM or FASS; and the merger with Languages and Applied Linguistics moving to FASS.
This branch believes:  
That the proposed merger is not justified for the following reasons: 
  • the timing is based on the departure of Fary Cachelin, Ian Fribbance and Dev Kodwani from their Executive Dean roles, described as a “natural opportunity” to review the configuration of the fac-ulties, when organisational structures are about the right combination of roles, not individual people
  • the rationale involves potential cost-cutting, which is unlikely to be realised
  • it is further suggested there could be opportunities to realise research and teaching synergies (e.g., around apprenticeship programmes), which could be just as easily done with the existing faculty configuration
  • the merger was not properly consulted on with colleagues in the affected areas before the an-nouncement and the timeline (involving taking findings of the post-announcement consultation to VCE in May and to Senate in June) is too short to allow for meaningful discussion.    
  • That the merger would create substantial disruption and high levels of anxiety amongst staff during an already unsettled period.
  • That this would have negative knock-on effects for our students.
  • That the proposal only involves “conversations with key colleagues across faculties and Profession-al Services” as opposed to there being opportunities for all affected to have their voices heard.
  • That there is already a very volatile employment relations climate at national level, which any merger will only exacerbate locally.
  • That all the available research evidence points to increased centralisation and larger organisational units creating profound inefficiencies, a lack of agility to respond to changing external circumstances and delays in important decision making as well as heightened levels of stress and job dissatisfaction.  
This branch resolves:   
  • To call on VCE to share the results of an evidence-based analysis of the three options in the pro-posal. 
  • To call on VCE to ensure a comprehensive consultation exercise about the proposals which encom-passes all affected colleagues who wish to contribute and involves the student voice as well. 
  • To ask VCE to ensure that no decisions are made until this exercise has been completed.

OU UCU motion passed at the General meeting on 8th March 2023 


This branch notes:  

  • The General Secretary - without consultation with members or elected national executive or HEC - ‘paused’ industrial action, calling off strike days from 21st Feb to 2nd March 2023.   

This branch believes:  

  • Recent UCU President Vicky Blake rightly described this decision as being “deeply concerning” [since] “a significant tactical decision has been made without appropriate democratic cover.” 
  • The UCEA's current offer is fundamentally inadequate, with no real improvement on pay during the worst cost-of-living crisis in decades.  
  • In January 2020 UCEA offered detailed commitments. In Feb 2023 their offer represents a step backward, containing no detail and few UCEA commitments. 
  • The prospective abolition of Zero Hours Contracts is vague.  
  • On gender pay gaps and workload: all HE institutions already claim to be tackling these issues. 
  • Pausing action allows employers a victory of sorts, as semester 2 teaching may be salvageable, and the pause prevents us continuing action in conjunction with other unions. 
  • Although the UCU leadership uses militant rhetoric, it seeks to close down disputes at the earliest, thus demobilising the membership, weakening union action, and endangering the current re-ballot. 
  • The membership must freely, openly and democratically determine the course of industrial action and likewise the acceptability of any settlement. 
  • The Commission on Effective Industrial Action 2018 report, which was rightly reaffirmed as policy by Congress 2022, makes clear that HEC is the body that should determine whether to pause ac-tion during negotiations. 

This branch resolves:   

  • That UCU should maintain all strike dates already called between 16-22 March.  
  • That extra strike dates should be called  
  • That no strike dates should be cancelled (or 'paused') without HEC approval.  

OU UCU motion passed at the General meeting on 8th March 2023 


On International Women's Day, and with a continuing gender pay gap in the institution, the branch notes with grave concern that some parts of the university are citing financial pressures to propose the suspension of Athena Swan applications and other EDI initiatives. We call upon the Vice Chancellor and the Deputy Vice Chancellor to recommit to the university's ongoing work on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, and to affirm that they will not treat the institutional financial situation as a means to cut work in support of staff who would thus be doubly disadvantaged.

OU UCU motion passed at the General meeting on 8th March 2023 for UCU Congress 2023

Title: Strengthening Bargaining & Negotiations through collectively developing our decarbonisation campaign

Congress Believes 

  • UCU has pioneered the intensification and mainstreaming of action against the Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE), in tertiary education and the labour movement.
  • Commitments to strengthen sectoral bargaining and pursue a Green New Deal through a national joint claim (Congress 2022, Motion 60) would benefit from greater grassroots knowledge.    

Congress Resolves

  • To issue guidance on members collectively influencing Professional Bodies and Learned Societies to revise ethics, events and funding processes.
  • To grant the Climate and Ecological Emergency Committee status under Rule 25; to submit Motions and send Delegates to Conferences and Congress.  
  • To gather information through Branch Delegate Meetings on the content of, and member support for, particular policies, including:
  • Requirements for professional development or job retraining
  • Restrictions on non-fossil fuel flights, paid time for use of slower low-carbon transport
  • Reasonable adjustments appropriate to considerations including (but not limited too) protected characteristics, employment type, or career stage.

OU UCU motion passed at the General meeting on 8th March 2023 for the HE Sector Conference 19 April 2023

Title: Reinforcing organising for improved research staff conditions 
Conference notes:
  • The policies adopted and guidance produced in support of sustainable research careers
  • That UCU has had little success in bringing employers to move research staff onto secure contracts, with the numbers on fixed-term contracts remaining relatively static
  • That moves by some employers to move staff from FTC to open ended contracts with an identified 'at risk' date does not necessarily improve security of employment
  • Staff require paid time to adapt careers to changing conditions, such as the Climate and Ecological Emergency
  • We need new ways to pressure employers to meaningfully engage, nationally and locally, on this issue.
Conference resolves to:
  • Assess support for research staff at each institution, with a view to ranking employers on levels of support
  • identify and share examples of better practice 
  • update current materials on supporting research staff and develop a Research Staff manifesto that we can use as a campaigning and negotiating tool.

OU UCU motion passed at the General meeting on 17th January 2023

This branch notes the extraordinary actions by UCEA as described by the 5-union joint statement specifically:
  • the refusal to place on the table any pay offer in December despite having set up meetings for this purpose, and 
  • the publication of an 'agreed' procedural document that the unions had in fact not agreed. 
The result has been a delay and a failure to negotiate in good faith to find a resolution to this dispute.
  • This branch also notes that the offer made on 11th January will mean a 15% or 16% reduction in pay against RPI over 2 years if inflation does not fall.
This branch further notes that the Open University is a member of UCEA and that members of UCEA determine the mandate and actions of UCEA as their negotiating body. UCEA therefore acts in the name of the Open University and the other sector employers.
This branch calls upon the senior leadership of the Open University to: 
  • build on our joint achievement in tackling casualisation for Associate Lecturers, and continue to lead on supporting better working conditions and thus better learning conditions in the Higher Education sector
  • distance itself from these actions by its negotiators, and
  • require UCEA as its representatives to negotiate in good faith with the five sector unions. 

OU UCU motions passed at the Extraordinary General meeting on 16th November 2022

This General Meeting agrees to the setting up of a local hardship fund to supplement the national UCU fighting fund during any action over USS pensions or over pay this academic year. The purpose of the fund will be to support branch members who face hardship as a result of pay deductions.
This meeting authorises: 
  1. The transfer of an initial sum of £50,000 from local branch funds into the hardship fund and asks the Branch Committee to set up a process for members to access the fund in accordance with national UCU guidance. 
  2. The Branch Committee to seek to increase the hardship fund further as needed by transferring additional branch funds and asking for donations.
Any money remaining in the hardship fund at the end of the action should be transferred back into our local branch funds, leaving a token amount to keep the account active.
This union notes:
  1. The announced threat of 140 redundancies at Birkbeck, 84 academic and 55 adminis-trative staff
  2. That the majority of those academic staff threatened work in Arts and Humanities sub-jects.
  3. The response of Birkbeck UCU, which includes this statement: “Birkbeck has a proud history of reaching students who otherwise would not enter higher education. Sacking 140 staff, including up to one in four teaching staff, threatens to trash that history. The cuts would severely harm student learning and jeopardise the university's commitment to social mobility and lifelong learning.”
This union believes:
  1. That all threats of this nature are to be opposed
  2. That this threat is part of wider assault on Arts and Humanities subjects, and that this weakens Higher Education as a whole
  3. That staff within an institution whose goals parallel our own deserve our special sup-port
This union resolves: 
  1. To make an immediate £1,000 donation to the campaign to save these jobs
  2. To maintain close contacts with Birkbeck UCU, and offer ongoing support to their campaign to save jobs and the goals of the institution.
This union notes:
  1. The announced UCU strike dates in November coincide with strikes called by CWU.
  2. That while currently involved in talks, the RMT is also conducting a re-ballot for strike action
  3. That the RCN has balloted for strike action for the first time in its history
  4. That the NEU is currently conducting a consultative ballot for national strike action.
This union believes:
  1. That coordinated and concerted action strengthens our collective claims over pay, pensions and working conditions. 
  2. That after 14 years of austerity and cuts to public services, and the current cost of liv-ing crisis, enough is enough
  3. That “the longer the picket line, the shorter the action”
This union resolves:
  1. To urge and encourage our branch members, wherever possible, to attend our own picket lines
  2. That where this is not possible, to urge and encourage our branch members to visit other UCU picket lines and to send the branch mailbox selfies for a collective display on the branch website
  3. To to invite representatives of other unions striking or balloting for strike action to visit our picket lines and, wherever possible, to encourage members to reciprocate.


OU UCU motions passed at the General meeting on 21st October 2022 

Motion 1 for UCU's Climate and Ecological Emergency Committee: Curriculum and Teaching Careers in the CEE
Meeting believes
  1. That many teaching in Higher and Further Education are concerned about the Climate and Ecological Emergency. 
  2. That many members of UCU seek guidance and support from their union in how to change the curriculum, and teaching careers, so as to better address the Climate and Ecological Emergency. This includes factors other than the employers, such as the UK Professional Standards Framework, AdvanceHE, Learned Societies, and the poli-cy of government(s). 
  3. That potential members of UCU would join the union if it is seen to take proactive, high-profile steps on Climate and Ecological Emergency education.
Meeting resolves
  1. That UCU map the relevant stakeholders and factors, then develop a campaign to in-fluence them. 
  2. The incoming Climate and Ecological Emergency Committee should play a central role in developing the campaign.
Motion 2 for UCU's Climate and Ecological Emergency Committee: Building UCU’s organising and bargaining capacity; growing green rep cohorts
Meeting Believes 
  1. That the strength of a union lies in its grassroots organising, both in branches and na-tionally. 
  2. That UCU action on sustainability and the Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE) has proven popular amongst members (including new member recruitment), and in making links between other teaching and student unions. 
  3. UCU’s activities are key to highlighting and framing the role of tertiary education and research in addressing the climate emergency and its impacts, by promoting educa-tion and research as a necessary part of movement from unsustainable high-carbon to sustainable green systems.
  4. That some areas of Climate and Ecological Emergency organising have encountered barriers. For example, many branches do not have an Environmental or Green repre-sentative, whilst the groundswell of support for these issues has rarely been translated into branch or national negotiating machinery and claims. 
Meeting Resolves
  1. That the incoming CEE committee investigate the strengths and barriers of UCU’s cur-rent CEE work in motivating members and potential members.
  2. That the committee gather evidence and make recommendations, at or before the next annual meeting, on how to practically develop UCU’s organising and bargaining power on CEE issues. 
  3. That the committee practically support efforts to grow the cohort of UCU Green Rep-resentatives.
Motion 3 for UCU's Climate and Ecological Emergency Committee: Developing UCU’s demands to employers; feeding into the national claims
Meeting notes
  1. A primary role of trade unions is to effect change through industrial negotiations and bargaining with employers and their representative organisations, such as UUK.
  2. UCU has committed to developing national joint claims in HE and FE, see Congress 2022 motion 60. These national claims are made every year, specifying the demands from unions that are made to all employers at a nationwide scale (rather than just at local branches). 
  3. Any national claims developed will have to support previously agreed policy on envi-ronmental issues, but also on policy, strategy and campaigns such as the Four Fights, Respect FE and UCU Rising. See https://www.ucu.org.uk/motions 
  4. The processes for developing and agreeing the national claims, including with other unions in joint negotiating committees, are (perpetually) ongoing.
  5. The 2022-23 claim is currently under development, so CEE considerations or contri-butions from the CEEC need to be incorporated from the outset. 
Meeting Resolves
  1. That the CEE committee should proactively make links with the FE and HE national negotiators, supporting them to develop and negotiate CEE elements of the national claims to be put to the 2023 Congress.  

OU UCU motions passed at the General meeting on 21st September 2022 

This Branch utterly condemns the heavy-handed and unacceptable policing of respectable republican protests surrounding the recent monarchical events.

The use of state repression to punish dissenting views is totally unacceptable and a threat to pluralist democracy in the UK

OU UCU motions passed at the General meeting on 21st July 2022 

Motion 1

This branch believes: 
That good communications are essential in supporting any strategy to bring in new activist members. 

Therefore resolves: 
In order to support the work of the newly formed Communications Group, we should trial the role of Communications Lead on the Executive Committee. In this period, their role would be to work with the Comms Group and to support other Exec Committee officers, particularly the President and Honorary Secretary, and the Branch Administrator, in issuing timely internal and external communication to members, and managing the production of appropriate newsletters to staff groups, and social media for the branch. This role will be reviewed after a year. 

Motion 2 - Stress, Workload, and Wellbeing at the OU 

This branch notes the recent results of the Staff Barometer Survey, the impact of stress on all staff categories, and the fact that excessive workload and associated problems have not improved since this branch’s Workload Survey in 2018. 

We call upon the Open University to:

  1. Reinstate the joint union/management Workload Working Group which the university stopped in 2019. This group must be supported to work in conjunction with H&S, People Services, unit budget holders and others to investigate and address excessive workloads and stress 
  2. Conduct an immediate university-wide H&S stress risk assessment covering all staff cate-gories and PGR students no later than September 2022 
  3. Working with the unions, develop a remedial action plan with measurable objectives for any areas of concern from this risk assessment across all staff categories and PGRs no later than the end of 2022
  4. Immediately convene negotiations with UCU on homeworking and hybrid working, includ-ing but not limited to equipment, allowances, residency, and site use
  5. Undertake a detailed review of the Staff Tutor/SEM workload and tasks (as requested by UCU repeatedly since 2018 and within the recommendations of the trade union H&S in-spection of December 2020), and urgently implement remedial action to alleviate stress and workload in this role in the short- medium- and long-term 
  6. Agree and run a joint project with UCU to investigate excessive workload and stress for academic-related staff and barriers to career development and promotion, with a commit-ment to implementing the recommendations
  7. Agree and run a joint project with UCU on reviewing a) Associate Lecturer workload norms and b) other academic workload norms as used in the Academic Workload Man-agement system (AWM) with a view to establishing a realistic, consistent and fair ap-proach for all faculty staff
  8. Provide parity of annual leave entitlement across the university and in particular equality between Associate Lecturers and other academic staff 
  9. Agree to explore the possibility of a 35-hour working week in line with the national pay claim, and also to explore the findings from national and international pilots of the 4-day work week.  
Motion 3 - Staff Retention and the Cost-of-Living Crisis 

This branch notes that the employers’ organisation UCEA and the OU have refused to make a pay offer in line with inflation, after real-terms pay losses since 2009. At present the pay offer stands at 3% for 2022-2023 while inflation is 9.1% CPI at June 2022 as prices continue to rise. This branch notes that the VC highlights fairness and staff wellbeing as key university values. We note further that other universities have agreed to make one-off payments in 2021/22 to help staff with the rise in energy and living costs. 

We call upon the university to:

  1. Provide a £2,000 payment to all staff to ease the cost of living (NB This should include stipended PGR students in line with UCU’s policy that PGR students should be treated as employees)
  2. Explore with the unions the possibility of raising the grade boundaries in the Pay and Grading Framework, to the potential benefit of all staff categories
  3. Re-establish the Fixed Term Contracts working group (stopped by the university in 2020) with a remit to prevent redundancies across all staff categories and to reduce casualisation, including renewed institutional commitment to converting fixed term roles to permanency
  4. Commit to working with UCU on a minimum fixed-term contract duration of 2 years as standard
  5. Immediate publication of a detailed breakdown of the ethnicity/race pay gap by staff category and commitment to annual publication of the disability pay gap data
  6. Joint working with UCU to develop action plans with measurable and timely objectives for reducing to zero within 4 years the gender, ethnicity/race and disability pay gaps
  7. Commit to replacement of the GEM and Special Awards (given inequitable outcomes by staff category, part-time status and many other characteristics for years) by a fairer reward approach covering all staff categories.

OU UCU motions passed at the Annual General meeting on 7th June 2022 

Motion 1 - Creating and maintaining a branch for everybody and which is representative of the OU population
This meeting believes:
  • Academic-related, Associate Lecturer and Academic staff are all eligible and valued members of the Open University branch of UCU (OUBUCU)
  • All eligible staff should be equally supported by OUBUCAll eligible staff categories should have equal opportunities to influence OUBUCU strategy and policy 
  • A diverse OUBUCU is a stronger branch.
This meeting resolves: 
  • OUBUCU should campaign publicly on local Open University and national UCU issues which resonate with all eligible staff categories and share details of successes, which would demonstrate the inclusiveness of UCU and its value to all members and poten-tial members.
  • All eligible staff should be provided with mechanisms to engage with OUBUCU fairly and equally
  • OUBUCU should proactively seek to widen and diversify its membership across all eligible OU staff categories.
Motion 2 - Towards institutional sustainability at the OU
This meeting believes
  • Sustainability has a wider meaning than its environmental connotations
  • It is incumbent upon us all to incorporate sustainability practices into our lives, at work and at home. 
  • Sustainability should be enacted through institutional policies and initiatives.
This meeting resolves:
  • To produce a branch definition of institutional sustainability – to include reference to the environment, climate change, health and well-being, travel (but not limited to these examples).
  • To encourage OU leadership to publicly and actively share institutional data related to the results and performance of existing sustainability initiatives
  • To use this data and the branch definition to publicly campaign for institutional policies that reflect the full scope institutional sustainability.

OU UCU motion passed at the General meeting on 4th May 2022 

Donations and solidarity for UCU branches taking action

This branch notes that a number of HE and FE branches will be taking action in the coming months and authorises the Branch Committee to make appropriate donations to local hardship funds.

This branch also notes that some HE branches will soon be taking action over the Four Fights and (depending on HESC decisions) over USS. These branches will be taking action over national disputes on behalf of branches which cannot take action this time as a result of anti-trade union legislation.

This meeting asks the branch executive committee to consider making donations up to a total amount similar to that we would expect to spend if the OU UCU branch were taking action.

This meeting also asks the executive committee to organise support for branches taking action by publicising and supporting their rallies and other events, fund raising, and other practical support.


OU UCU motions passed at the General meeting on 4th March 2022 

Higher Education Careers Services: informing students and supporting the low carbon economy - for the HE Sector Conference
HE conference notes:

  1. Impartial advice and guidance offered by HE careers services is valuable for students and wider society. 
  2. Careers services promoting roles in oil, gas and mining industries is likely contributing to the global climate crisis, and leading students into careers which will decline as we decarbonise our economies.
  3. Congress 2017 passed a motion resolving to “work with members affected by a move to a low carbon economy, other trade unions, and environmentalists” to campaign for a Just Transition.

HE conference resolves:

  1. To work actively with People & Planet to publicly support the student-led Fossil Free Careers campaign, calling on HE careers services to align their operations with sustainability considerations, particularly by declining to promote oil, gas and mining companies. 
  2. To produce a website statement about this motion and UCU support for this campaign and amplify the calls to action of it. 
Strengthening organising by constructing radical national claims; climate emergency anti-casualisation - for UCU Congress
Congress believes: 
  1. National Joint Claims’ power to secure improvements beyond pay uplifts, and so to recruit and organise members, is under-recognised.
  2. Climate emergency anti-casualisation is an area of potential transformation
  3. That precarious employment is often carbon intensive, featuring significant commuting and home moves.
  4. That decarbonisation will negatively affect some jobs.
Congress resolves that UCU:
  • Exemplify collective bargaining by developing and submitting a Green New Deal national claim to FE and HE negotiating forums, including:
    1. A Just Transition Commission in HE and FE, including transition planning and job (role) frameworks
    2. Sustainable, just work providing stability for employers and employees to adapt, and a roadmap out of precarity
    3. Skills transition; paid time for sustainability CPD, including on casualised and outsourced contracts
    4. Trade Union environment representatives’ facility time
    5. Use Trades Union Congress structures to promote multi-union campaigning for a Just Transition.
Strengthening UCU's work amongst research-only employees - for HE Sector Conference
Conference believes:
  1. Precarity disrupts members on research- only contracts from being more active and experienced members, compounded by moving employer or locality.
  2. That casualisation on research- only contracts is high, with 67% being fixed-term contracts, whilst many ‘open-ended contracts’ are ‘subject-to-funding’. 
Conference resolves that UCU produce:
  1. a strategy for influencing research funders (including government) to focus on building employers and structures that create permanency
  2. guidance on how members in Learned Societies might influence them to oppose casualisation
  3. a pilot initiative for UCU to support members’ seeking to integrate solidarity economy activities into research work, such as linking to UCU-aligned organisations requiring research, or Community Wealth Building as impact.
  4. bitesize political education, covering UCU activities, structures and ‘everyday’ actions
  5. branch guidance on securing paid time (‘facility time’) for all contract types, or as additional pay for members who cannot receive paid time off. 

OU UCU motion passed at the General meeting on 17th January 2022

Proposed motion for submission to the Annual Meeting of Members on Casualised Contracts, 26 February 2022 - Strengthening organising by constructing radical national claims; climate emergency anti-casualisation
This Meeting believes: 
  • National Joint Claims’ power to secure improvements beyond pay uplifts, and so to recruit and organise members, is under-recognised
  • Climate emergency anti-casualisation is an area of potential transformation#
  • That precarious tertiary education employment is often carbon intensive, featuring significant long-distance commuting and frequent home moves.
This Meeting resolves that UCU:
Exemplify how collective bargaining can address the climate emergency, and through anti-casualisation
Negotiate for climate justice and a Just Transition in the National Joint Claim by the Joint Negotiating Committee for Higher Education Staff (JNCHES), including: 
  • Strategic national agreement on transition planning and job (role) frameworks, preventing stranded employment or dead-end career pathways
  • Anti-casualisation, providing long term stability for employers and employees to adapt
  • Reduced precarity, including employer support and paid time for retraining
Decide if such agreement is best achieved by a joint JNCHES working groups, a time limited commission, or other means.
Develop analogous measures in FE.
Use Trades Union Congress structures to organise multi-union campaigning for a Just Transition, including educational components.

OU UCU motions passed at the General meeting on 20th October 2021

Motion 1

This General Meeting agrees to the setting up of a local hardship fund to supplement the national UCU fighting fund during any industrial action over USS pensions or over pay this academic year. The purpose of the fund will be to support branch members who face hardship, as a result of lost pay during the industrial action. 

This meeting authorises: 

  1. The transfer of an initial sum of £50,000 from local branch funds into the hardship fund and asks the branch executive to set up a process for members to access the fund in accordance with national UCU guidance. 

  2. The branch committee to seek to increase the hardship fund further by asking for donations, to the extent that this is practically possible.

Any money remaining in the hardship fund at the end of the action should be transferred back into our local branch funds, leaving a token amount to keep the account active.


Motion 2

This meeting notes:

That like the OU, Goldsmiths has in the past prided itself on a commitment to lifelong learning and to broaden access to higher education.  

The ongoing threat of redundancies amongst academic and professional services staff at Goldsmiths.

That this is one of several ongoing attacks on arts and humanities funding by British universities.

That by denying the Goldsmiths UCU branch (GUCU) officers proper payment for facility time, Goldsmiths management are undermining the legally-recognised collective consultation process.

That GUCU has just secured an overwhelming mandate for industrial action in an informal ballot.

That other institutions, notably Chester and Liverpool, have fought off schemes for compulsory redundancies via the threat of industrial action.

It resolves:

  • To declare publicly our solidarity with our comrades at Goldsmiths.

  • To ask our members to support GUCU’s online #NoJobCuts campaign and

  • to approve the donation of £500 from OUBUCU branch funds to support their campaigning.

OU UCU motion passed at the General meeting on 23rd September 2021

Motion on ALCCP briefing
This meeting notes the proposed misuse of AL Academic Currency time, and low overall pay for new ALs starting this October and considers these to be unacceptable.

Proposed amendment to the motion
This meeting notes the proposed misuse of AL Academic Currency and Professional Development time, and low overall pay for new ALs starting this October and considers these to be unacceptable.

Overwriting the self-directed part of AL Academic Currency time with other work is equivalent to the cancellation of study leave for academic staff. Overwriting the agreed Professional Development and Academic Currency time is equivalent to asking ALs not to read course materials that they are about to teach. Crucially, overwriting either the AL-led Academic Currency time or the Agreed Professional Development and Academic Currency time with Mandatory training is contrary to the purpose of the former two and directly contrary to the negotiated policy on 'AL Professional Development and Academic Currency' which states that neither the 6 days pro-rata for AL-led AC time nor the 1 + 5 days pro rata for Agreed PD and AC time are to be used for Mandatory training (e.g., IT training, Prevent, etc.)

The OU made a commitment that no AL would be financially worse off due to the delay in implementing the new AL contract. This is breached by overwriting Professional Development and Academic Currency time with other work. This especially applies to new ALs in 21J since three half days' induction are for IT training which they should be paid for since they are unlikely to have any spare FTE.

When it comes to module briefings, if these are taken to be included in the 1+ 5 days of Agreed PD and AC time, it would entail that the majority of ALs have no time left for the rest of the year to engage in further professional development. If anything further is needed (attending SD days, getting up to speed on a new module, etc.), this would need to be paid for over and above their FTE unless they have other unused FTE. As things stand, there is no indicated intention to cover this with additional payments.

This branch supports the negotiators in pursuing this matter through negotiation, arbitration, or by lodging a dispute if necessary.

View the ALCCP briefing.
View the agreed policy balloted on in 2019.
This policy is cited in Section 19 of the new AL Terms and Conditions, and the current AL Terms and Conditions also have caveats on the use of staff development time in Section 9c.


OU UCU motion passed at the General meeting on 17th August 2021

This branch notes the ongoing dispute over the USS valuation, plans developed by UUK for unjustified and substantial cuts to pension benefits, and the refusal of USS to divest from fossil fuels.

Kings College London UCU and other branches are fundraising to explore legal action against the USS Trustees on several potential grounds (see: Save university pensions, and save the planet (crowdjustice.com).  This initiative has support from UCU negotiators and is intended to complement any action undertaken by national UCU. 

The branch calls upon the Executive Committee to publicise this fundraising effort to members and to make an initial contribution of £500 to this fund.

OU UCU motion passed at the General meeting on 22nd July 2021

This meeting notes:
  1. The pandemic and lockdowns have focused attention on homeworking, and on associated costs and benefits
  2. UCU has developed new policy on homeworking during the past year
  3. The OU Homeworking Policy and associated guidance was never negotiated with UCU
  4. The OU Homeworking Policy and guidance focus on cost savings to the employee that result from homeworking rather than the savings made by the employer on building maintenance, heating and lighting etc, and devolve the cost of health and safety equipment on homeworkers.
This meeting asks the UCU branch executive to open discussions and negotiations with management on the OU homeworking policy and guidance.

OU UCU motion passed at the Annual General meeting on 3rd June 2021


This meeting notes:
  • the ongoing threat of redundancies amongst academic, academic-related and professional services staff at the University of Leicester (for 26 of these staff notices of redundancy were issued on the 11th May), 
  • the enormous stress and anxiety caused not only amongst ‘affected’ colleagues but also those deemed to be ‘unaffected’, 
  • the contradictory way in which the senior management team have managed the process 
  • the evidence that, in the School of Business in particular, management’s strategy is best explained by union busting rather than anything else (Hawkins and Routledge, 2021). 
It resolves: 
  1. to endorse formally UCU’s greylisting of Leicester, announced on the 4th May, 
  2. to declare publicly our solidarity with comrades there and 
  3. to approve the donation of £1000 from branch funds to support their industrial action. 
Hawkins, S. and Routledge, J. ‘What were they thinking? A statistical analysis of the arguments surrounding the ULSB controversy’, view online.

OU UCU motion passed at the Extraordinary General meeting on 27th April 2021

Motion - Staff Tutor's/Student Experience Manager's Claim

This meeting endorses the claim for Staff Tutors and Student Experience Managers in the appendix to the EGM agenda, and asks our Executive committee and ST/SEM negotiators to negotiate with the university on the basis of this claim, and to do what is necessary to pursue it.


OU UCU motions passed at the Extraordinary General meeting on 31st March 2021

Motion 1 - Proceed with claim

The meeting endorses the attached claim for mitigation and compensation for Associate Lecturers following the decision by VCE to delay implementation of the new AL contract.
This meeting authorises the OU UCU negotiators and executive committee to negotiate with management on the basis of this claim, to make any necessary additions, and to enter a dispute with the university in the event of failure to agree, and if necessary to take the initial steps required to organise legal industrial action.
This meeting also authorises the OU UCU executive committee and ST/SEM negotiators to draft a claim on behalf of staff tutors, addressing workload and related stress, and the need for proper systems and support, and to take any necessary measures to pursue it.

This meeting authorises the executive committee to use up to £20,000 of OU branch funds in support of the claims referred to in this motion.

Motion 2 - Support for AL Members in Case of Strike Action

This meeting notes there is massive support for the ongoing decasualisation process among all categories of OU staff. OUBUCU members in all roles are dismayed at the news that the timetable towards the new contract is being abandoned, with often severe financial consequences to individuals. Members wish to demonstrate practical solidarity with those who are forced to threaten industrial action in response. An injury to one is an injury to all. 

This meeting asks the Branch Committee to establish an active appeal for the Hardship Fund, in order to make it clear to AL members that they will receive financial support to compensate for hardship resulting from any industrial action, should this be necessary in support of the new contract and the 'no detriment' principle. 

This appeal will be aimed at non-AL members in the branch and could involve pledges to the branch Hardship Fund that will be activated only should industrial action prove necessary over this issue. 

Motion 3 - Vote of No Confidence in the University Secretary

This meeting notes that the University Secretary of the Open University, as chair of the AL Contract Delivery Board, on Monday 21 March 2021 announced a delay to the implementation of the AL Contract after more than two years of work.  As context this meeting notes:

  • Failure to implement the new contract means the loss of job security and thousands of pounds for over 4000 associate lecturers, many of whom took significant financial deci-sions on the basis of commitments from the university
  • A key reason given was that systems were not in place for delivery, which constitutes a comprehensive institutional failure for which the Delivery Board and Vice Chancellor’s Executive are responsible
  • There was no contingency planning in place for stopping the contract implementation (the legality of which decision is still in question)
  • There was no notification to the union in advance of this decision so no negotiation with the union took place
  • Because the proposed mitigation efforts (dated Wednesday 24 March 2021) were not discussed with the union, they do not adequately address job security or financial loss - for instance owing to the omission of Tuition Related Activities which make up the FTE of hundreds of ALs 
  • In communicating this decision there was no consideration of the duty of care to staff, whether those directly affected or those attempting to handle the practical and emotional fallout of this decision.

Given these failures this meeting states that it has no confidence in the University Secretary.  There must be a formal review of VCE actions and decision-making that have led to this situation.


OU UCU motion passed at the General meeting on 16th March 2021 for UCU Congress

Annual Meeting and Committee on Environmental Issues
Congress notes:
  1. The UCU Climate & Sustainability Conference held in March 2021.
  2. That the meeting positively supported the self-education and organising of activists.
  3. That creating stable structures for holding similar recurring meetings, and to represent and organise members on this employment interest, would be valuable to UCU and the NEC.
Congress resolves:
  1. That UCU holds an Annual Meeting on Environmental Issues each year, to advise the NEC under Rule 25.1 or by other constitutional means.
  2. That standing orders be drawn up to organise formally the Annual Meeting, including allowing branches to send motions and a report to be made available to the NEC.
  3. The meeting should keep a timetable similar to other such Annual Meetings.
  4. Recognising the organising benefits of creating a stable advisory body for members to coalesce around within UCU, to address this sector-wide interest by establishing a standing advisory committee.


OU UCU motion passed at the General meeting on 24th February 2021

Motion 2: Understanding Casualisation by Learning Technology
Meeting notes: 
  • The rapid growth of learning technology in tertiary education as described in The Automatic University: review of datafication and automation in Higher Education', a report by UCU Scot-land.
  • The rise of non-education jobs in the gig economy based upon casualised, highly surveilled employment relationships often mediated by an app.
  • The incursion of international learning technology organisations into UK universities bringing exploitative employment models from Big Tech
  • Increased use of teaching and learning based on pre-recorded or pre-written materials, rather than interactive activity.  
Meeting requests that UCU commission research into learning technology and 'tech platforms' to investigate:
  • Key threats of increased casualisation
  • Surveillance elements as they affect employees’ autonomy and wellbeing
  • Successful steps taken by trade unions experienced in performing rights (eg BECTU/Prospect and the NUJ) to defend members' rights 
  • Recommendations from the findings for fighting casualisation and deterioration of working conditions arising from new learning technology.


OU UCU motion passed at the General meeting on 24th February 2021

Motion 1: Sustainability is a Casualisation Issue
Meeting believes: 
  1. Climate change, biodiversity-loss and un-sustainable development are a serious and growing threat to human wellbeing. 
  2. The present political situation means that the costs and losses of mitigation or adaptation tend to disproportionately to fall on the less powerful, more marginalised members of society. Within tertiary education, this includes workers on casualised contracts.    
Meeting reaffirms: 
  • Casualised members support UCU taking action on point 1.
  • Action on point 1 must be part of, rather than in tension with, supporting casualised members. 
Meeting Resolves: 
  1. UCU should campaign for a ‘Green Recovery’ from Covid-19 that prioritises measures which reduce casualisation.
  2. Guidance to branches on sustainability should incorporate anti-casualisation, including that:
    • Measures supporting ‘sustainable behaviour’ are made accessible to casualised employees. 
    • Employers must reduce institutions’ environmental impacts and absorb any associated costs, rather than transfer or outsource their impacts or costs to employees, particularly casualised employees.


OU UCU motion passed at the General meeting on 25th November 2020

This branch notes:

  • The threat of mass redundancies at UEL, and the proposed dismissal of Professor Bhattacharyya, UCU activist and black female professor.
  • That other union activists, equality groups, and vulnerably employed staff are likely to be overrepresented among those dismissed at UEL and at other institutions where staff are facing mass redundancies.

We offer our solidarity to members at UEL and other branches in dispute, we also ask the branch executive to agree appropriate donations or other practical support that branches may need.


OU UCU motion passed at the General meeting on 22nd July 2020

Donation to National Fighting Fund in Relation to the UCU Levy

Following the recent strike action, national UCU has been forced to implement a levy of £15 from all members (except retired members and those on free subscriptions) to cover a shortfall in the National Fighting Fund. UCU is seeking at least £76,000 in additional donations in order to be able to exempt those on lower salary bands (under £15,000 p.a.) from the levy. The branch has already passed a motion that it will if necessary, provide support from the local Hardship Fund for any OU member who is not able to afford the levy.

Each UCU branch with local reserves has been asked to donate what it can in order to reduce the shortfall before 28 July, when the arrangements for the levy must be made. A donation is a meaningful gesture of solidarity with precarious and low-paid members at institutions who went on strike earlier this year, and who now depend on the Fighting Fund for assistance.

The OU branch holds substantial reserves. A recent branch investment has matured which means that the proposed amount of £30,000 can be donated without incurring any financial penalties or impinging on the funds dedicated to the branch’s Hardship Fund. The proposed donation amount, while substantial, will not constrain future activities and campaigns of the OU branch or hamper its ability to support members.
Given this, the branch resolves to:

  • donate £30,000 from branch reserves to support the Fighting Fund.
  • encourage any member who is able to make a personal donation to the Fighting Fund.


OU UCU motion passed at the General meeting on 22nd July 2020

OUBUCU notes and endorses the following statement:
“UCU Solidarity Movement Statement: Defend Higher Education. Fight for jobs now.
University managements have responded to the Coronavirus crisis by attacking their staff. After rejecting UCU’s claims for a pay rise and action on casualisation and inequality earlier in the year, once Covid hit, they expected staff to rapidly switch to working from home, shouldering the increased demands of developing online teaching and administration, often without suitable equipment or expenses.

It is a disgrace that in institution after institution, they are preparing to repay that flexibility and goodwill by slashing jobs, cutting courses, and even imposing pay cuts.

Boris Johnson’s government is contributing to the crisis by defending a broken funding model based on student fees, refusing a bailout for the sector, and sitting back to watch the devastation as universities fight each other to maintain their student numbers. Not only are tens of thousands of livelihoods at stake, but the future of the Higher Education sector is under threat at the very moment that it is most needed to help the recovery.

The pandemic has not caused this crisis. It has merely provided an excuse for university managements to accelerate the shrinking of their wage bills to pay for the reckless borrowing and capital expenditure they have made in recent years.

As Higher Education workers we need to organise a fightback now. The situation is urgent. Casualised staff are losing their jobs right now and permanent positions are at risk with redundancies threatened before next academic year. The existence of long established institutions is under threat.

This battle cannot be waged branch by branch, institution by institution. We cannot wait for our employers to play us off against each other. We need a UK-wide campaign to resist the attacks and to back up the UCU Fund the Future campaign’s goal of putting HE at the centre of the political agenda. We commit ourselves to continue to organise maximum solidarity for all branches fighting to defend jobs and education.”


OU UCU motion passed at the General meeting on 2nd July 2020

This branch notes with alarm and dismay:

  • the section 188 notices issued en masse for staff at Reading University, and the intention to make staff apply for jobs on inferior terms and conditions.

  • the timing of the announcement just after the mass solidarity rally on Tuesday 16th June

This branch condemns the destructive and dictatorial behaviour of the Reading University management. We offer solidarity to the staff and to the UCU branch at Reading, and trust that national UCU will do everything it can to support them.  We also ask national UCU and the Reading University UCU branch to note that we are willing to take part in grey-listing Reading University if such action is called for.



OU UCU motion passed at the General meeting on 2nd July 2020

This branch notes with dismay the decision by NEC to enact a flat levy of £15 for the Fighting Fund on all full UCU members. It observes that the May 2019 Congress enacted a plan to lessen the cost of UCU membership for lower paid members, which is undermined by this action. It also notes many members are suffering financial stress in the pandemic.

This branch:

  • asks the NEC to reconsider the application of a flat levy and to attempt a fund-raising campaign in advance of any levy

  • agrees to open the Hardship Fund to cover the £15 levy for those OUBUCU members who cannot afford to pay it, should the flat levy still be required, and

  • directs the Branch Committee to write to the General Secretary to deplore this decision and the manner in which it was communicated to members.



OU UCU motion passed at the Annual General meeting on 2nd June 2020

This AGM notes:
  1. The pandemic has highlighted the un-sustainability of the HE tuition fee market funding model
  2. Numbers of mature part-time HE students have never recovered from the introduction of higher student fees in 2012
This meeting believes:
  1. Universities are public assets which provide a crucial public service, namely high quality education and research
  2. That Higher and Further Education will have a crucial role in recovery from the Covid crisis, and that education and re-skilling will be vital for economic recovery and building a better and more sustainable future
This meeting asks that UCU:
  1. Campaign against the UUK bailout plan, making the case for publicly-funded and accountable Higher Education accessible to all who can attend
  2. Campaign for the expansion of educational provision for those young and older people who are unable to gain employment following any post COVID recession.
  3. Campaign for an end to tuition fees and the reintroduce student maintenance grants.
  4. Campaign for the government to financially underpin all post-16 institutions that are suffering financial hardship due to the Covid-19 crisis, defend on-going educational provision, and preserve jobs and terms and conditions.


Add at the end of point 5 as follows:
5.  Support and publicise the statement, 'Time for a New Future for Higher Education', https://heconvention2.wordpress.com/2020/05/25/new-future-for-he/#more-9316


OU UCU motions passed at the General meeting on 14th May 2020

Motion 1

This branch notes, with respect, admiration, and gratitude that many of our members have, in common with other OU staff, students, alumni, and hundreds of thousands of people across the nation, returned to, or volunteered to undertake, service in the NHS and other key worker roles at this time of national crisis. We wish to extend to them our heartfelt support and solidarity.

This branch further notes the following specific issues regarding gaps in provision of PPE to key workers in the NHS and elsewhere, as highlighted by a recent edition of BBC’s ‘Panorama’ program: ‘Has the Government Failed the NHS?’:

  • inadequate stockpiling of appropriate PPE
  • downgrading COVID19 as a High Consequence Infectious Disease
  • the misleading reporting of ‘items’ of PPE being supplied

Which have resulted in an increased risk of infection being borne by our most critical workers and patients.  We call for a public enquiry into this failure of provision, and the wider governmental response, which early indicators suggest may lead to the highest death toll per capita in Europe. We condemn the mismanagement of this crisis, and call upon the government to take all necessary steps to protect the health and wellbeing of those on the front line.”

Amendment to the PPE motion above
Add at the end of the motion:
Additionally we call upon UCU to initiate and/or contribute to a serious discussion about potential environmental causes that may be increasing the incidence of pandemics, including (but not limited to) the destruction of natural habitats of animal species, exploitation of hitherto untouched environments, climate change, insufficient care and respect for indigenous peoples and their way of life, wildlife markets and agricultural practices.


Motion 2 - Solidarity and developing crisis in HE institutions

This union notes with dismay that the response of many university managements to the crisis in Higher Education has been a punitive attack on academic, academic-related and teaching staff.
This union believes:

  1. that the underlying crisis in HE, which has been made stark by the Covid-19 epidemic, has its roots in the marketisation of the sector and the consequences this has had for both staff and students.
  2. that this attempt to make our colleagues in other institutions pay for two crises, neither of their making, is both reprehensible and immoral.
  3. that now is the time for a radical reconsideration of the place and purposes of higher education in our society

This union resolves therefore

  1. to send messages of solidarity and support to any UCU branch representing members in an institution where members’ jobs, security and conditions are under attack.
  2. to encourage members of the OUBUCU to engage with the next Higher Education convention in order to begin that radical reconsideration. Further details can be found at https://heconvention2.wordpress.com


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