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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 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

Motion 

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. 
Reference:
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.
 

AMENDMENT TO MOTION 1

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

 

OU UCU motion passed at the General meeting on 23rd April 2020

Motion 1 - call for suspension of performance management
This meeting notes that university is functioning in historically unprecedented circumstances. We believe OU staff of all categories care about students and can be trusted to do their best.

Many staff are adjusting to homeworking as well as lockdown, and of those who normally work at home many are now doing so in very abnormal conditions due to the closure of schools, day centres, and lockdown.

In these circumstances it is inappropriate, and indeed a waste of effort and resources, for the university to continue with normal processes of performance management, and this meeting asks the UCU branch executive committee and negotiators to seek:

  1. No Performance Improvement Plans (PIPS) to be issued during lockdown
  2. No formal disciplinary processes to be initiated for performance reasons until after lockdown has ended
  3. The pausing of CDSAs during lockdown

And to report back to branch members.  Within the context of the above, we encourage line managers to continue to support staff via team and/or 1-2-1 meetings as appropriate, as part of their duty of care.

Amendment to Motion 1 (wording is currently being amended by our Exec committee)
Delete current text of item 3 "the pausing of CDSAs during lockdown" and replace with "CDSAs to go ahead only with the express backing of the line manager and staff member, with no detriment to any staff in either role who decide that they are best paused."

Motion 2 - Disciplinary cases and lockdown
This meeting affirms that staff involved in disciplinary cases have a right to a face-to-face hearing if they wish it.  We therefore ask that disciplinary cases should be paused until the end of lockdown if the staff involved want to wait until a face-to-face hearing can take place.

OU UCU motion passed at the General meeting on 17th March 2020

The Open University Branch of UCU notes that Israeli settlements in occupied territory constitute a breach of international law, as is affirmed by (among many others) the British Government, the United Nations (Security Council and General Assembly), the International Court of Justice, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention.

The UCU OU Branch notes therefore that, because Ariel University is built in a settlement, for the Open University to recognise degrees from Ariel University, or to collaborate with Ariel University in any way, would be complicity in the breaking of international law.

 

OU UCU motion passed at the General meeting on 11th March 2020 for UCU Congress

UCU should hold recorded hustings for the posts of General Secretary (and Deputies) and the Presidential team in order to increase voter engagement, ensure parity and meet accessibility obligations.

The NEC should create a small election group of 5 to oversee the hustings events and choose chairs.

In advance of the election several dates should be provided to candidates to find one that all can attend, if necessary, via remote participation. Expenses should be paid to candidates including for travel, childcare or other caring cover.

The election group should agree a contingency plan for illness or other non-attendance - for example by allowing a recording of timed answers.

Members should be made aware of this source of information before the ballot opens. They should be able to submit questions in advance, anonymously. The event should be live-streamed and recorded. The recording should be available on the UCU website with a transcript.

 

OU UCU motion passed at the General meeting on 17th February 2020 for UCU Congress

UCU should hold recorded hustings for the posts of General Secretary (and Deputies) and the Presidential team in order to increase voter engagement, ensure parity and meet accessibility obligations.

The NEC should create a small election group of 5 to oversee the hustings events and choose chairs.  In advance of the election several dates should be provided to candidates to find one that all can attend, if necessary, via remote participation. Expenses should be paid to candidates including for travel, childcare or other caring cover. 

The election group should agree a contingency plan for illness or other non-attendance - for example by allowing a recording of timed answers.

Members should be made aware of this source of information before the ballot opens. They should be able to submit questions in advance, anonymously. The event should be live-streamed and recorded. The recording should be available on the UCU website with a transcript.

 

OU UCU motion passed at the General meeting on 17th February 2020 for the Higher Education Sector conference

USS: strengthening UCU, gaining non-member support
Conference notes the JEP2 report stated concerns regarding USS (the ‘Scheme’), including:

  • UCU’s ability to reflect “the views of all Scheme members and potential members” (p38)
  • Differences in attitude between employees with and without experience of alternative schemes (p73)
  • 'noise’ about the valuation leading people to question its value (p73)

Conference holds:

  • USS is a key element motivating HE employment, and UCU membership.
  • USS produces responsibilities and opportunities for UCU that go beyond UCU’s membership.
  • USS opt-in by UCU non-members benefits UCU.
  • The member benefits of UCU include independent financial advice (IFA) from ‘Lighthouse Financial Advisers’.

Conference resolves that UCU should investigate:

  •  Whether and how UCU could benefit from more intensive promotion of IFA to UCU members and non-members.
  • Whether this promotion should be of Lighthouse, solely.

 

OU UCU motion passed at the General meeting on 4th February 2020

We ask the OU Branch of UCU to reaffirm the UCU statement on academic freedom (last updated 27 January 2017) ucu.org.uk/academicfreedom.  In reaffirming the commitment to this statement and its underlying principles we ask colleagues to note that:

  1. The academic context in which we work privileges knowledge, critical thinking, debate and peer review.  A key function of post-compulsory education is the fostering of ideas and debate and this always includes discussing ideas and practices that are contrary to current orthodoxies.
     
  2. We are committed to the principle – expressed in Clause 3 – that academic freedom goes beyond the right of academics to discuss matters concerning their immediate, direct and substantive areas of research in an academic milieu.  Academic thinking and practices have to provoke debate and engage with society wide issues.  Academic freedom cannot be constrained by an individual’s area of expertise or confined to an academic context.
     
  3. We believe that all debate, no matter how controversial, must be conducted in a generous and respectful manner and cognisant of Rule 6.1.  We support the view that holding and expressing an opposing view is not the same as causing harm, nuisance or harassment.

 

OU UCU motion passed at the General meeting on 16th January 2020

  1. Commends the Open University’s commitment to respect the rights and protect the wellbeing of all students and staff, and its participation in the Stonewall Diversity Champions Scheme;
  2. Therefore supports:
  • all elements of the OU’s equality and diversity policy as it stands, including the gender identity policy and,
  • the OU continuing to draw upon expertise from Stonewall, the Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES), and Gendered Intelligence (GI), to inform this policy.
  1. Respects the rights of colleagues to academic debate, and maintains those rights can only be fully realised by all if we create and maintain a fully inclusive environment that recognises the rights of trans, non-binary and other gender-diverse people to self-identify, and to be treated with dignity and respect by OU staff and students and;
  2. notes that through providing and sustaining a secure and supportive environment, for all members of the OU community, we protect and uphold academic freedom.

References:
OU Gender Identity Policy and Guidance: https://help.open.ac.uk/documents/policies/gender-identity/files/28/gender-identity-policy-and-guidance.pdf  
Stonewall Diversity Champions programme: https://www.stonewall.org.uk/diversity-champions-programme  
Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES) https://www.gires.org.uk
Gendered Intelligence http://genderedintelligence.co.uk