All UCU members will have been contacted today by the Electoral Commission asking them to respond to three proposals from the UCU Secretary-General, Sally Hunt, on shrinking the National Executive Committee, electing negotiators via members’ ballot, and putting all ‘final’ offers from employers to a members’ ballot.
Unfortunately these proposals have, for many members, come ‘out of the blue’: there has been no grassroots debate about these ideas and turnout in the recent Secretary-General election was very poor, suggesting many members will not even be aware of the proposals. QM branch officials feel that this is the problem with a ‘plebiscitary’ approach to union democracy, where members are approached ‘cold’ and individually, instead of engaging in collective discussion at the local level to improve our understanding and foster debate and participatory decision-making.
Given the incredibly short notice associated with the SG’s poll of members, and our focus on the crisis in our own institution, QM UCU is not in a position to facilitate such local debate; all we can do is try to point members in the direction of further information. Members will already have received an email from Sally Hunt outlining the proposals and similar text is presented on the website on which members should vote. There is also a Q&A on the UCU website. There is also a document circulating on UCU activists’ lists arguing that these proposals are flawed and deserve to be voted down. For local members’ information we have uploaded this document here. Another document critiquing the Q&As is also doing the rounds; this is available here.
We encourage all members to vote, regardless of which way, as the outcome will have important implications for internal union democracy.