QM UCU EGM 18 April 2018


Present: Paul Anderson (chair) and 30 other members (quorum achieved)

1. USS Dispute Update

Paul Anderson briefed members on the latest developments in the USS dispute, the positions taken by the branch and the responses from the UCU leadership.

2. Motions

Motion 1: To Call an Emergency Higher Education Sector Conference


This branch notes that:


  1. With the ballot result of 13 April, UCU’s dispute with employers over the USS pension has entered a new phase but is far from being successfully concluded.
  2. Leadership of the dispute to date has been poor and lacking in accountability, involving hasty attempts by the General Secretary to put to members deals that fell far short of what many had participated in industrial action to achieve (12 March), and which lacked clarity on fundamental points (23 March). The decision to ballot members on the recent UUK offer, in particular, was not supported by a majority of branch representatives at the meeting on 28 March, despite the General Secretary’s claims to the contrary.
  3. UCEA has made yet another below-inflation offer in this year’s round of pay negotiations, which may require industrial action to arrest a further decline in real-terms pay, following a fall of around 20% in real terms in London since 2009.
  4. Several higher education institutions are also enacting or planning large-scale redundancies, such as Manchester, Liverpool and the Open University, and other employers may join them in an effort to release funds for USS. Again, further industrial action may be required to prevent a (currently very meagre and partial) victory on pensions being translated into a defeat on jobs.

This branch resolves:


  1. To demand that UCU call an emergency Higher Education Sector Conference under UCU Rule 16.11, to debate strategy around the USS dispute and the other aforementioned issues, and to take measures to strengthen UCU’s internal democracy and the accountability of the national leadership.
  2. To recommend that the HESC establish an industrial action committee to provide strategic direction going forwards and ensure that national officials are held properly to account.

For reference

Extract from UCU rule book https://www.ucu.org.uk/ucurules

16.11 Special meetings of National Congress or the Sector Conferences shall be convened, by giving at least three working weeks’ notice, when it is so resolved by the National Executive Committee or in the case of the Sector Conferences, the relevant Sector Committee, or following receipt of a requisition from quorate general meetings in 20 branches/Local Associations from separate institutions across the Union, or for Sector Conferences, in the Sector, or bearing the identifiable signatures of not less than one tenth of the members of the Union. Such resolution or requisition shall specify the intended business, and only that business may be transacted at the special meeting.

16.12 Requisitioned special meetings shall take place within five working weeks of receipt of the requisition by the General Secretary. Where branches/local associations have passed motions requisitioning a meeting, but the total is not yet deemed sufficient to trigger the requisition, up-to-date information regarding progress of the requisition, including the particulars of its business and the number and names of branches/Local Associations deemed to have passed the appropriate requisition motion, will be available to all members on request.

Motion 2: To Congratulate Members and Urge Them to Remain Mobilised and Engaged


This branch notes that:


  1. UCU has just finished the largest industrial action in the history of UK Higher Education, with more days lost to strike action than in the previous two years across the entire UK economy.
  2. This was achieved through the unprecedented energy, commitment and hard work of branch officials and ordinary members across the country, including at QMUL.
  3. The strikes raised a host of important issues not directly connected to pensions, including marketization, university governance and mismanagement, and casualisation and precarity.

This branch resolves:

  • To congratulate all members who took industrial action for their commitment and to urge them not to be disheartened or demobilised in the wake of the consultative ballot.
  • To extend our thanks to all students who supported the action and to maintain our collaboration in future.
  • To publicise the following meetings to members and urge them to participate:


      1. UCU – A Union Transformed, a UK activists’ assembly and organising school, 28 April, 10:30-5pm at UCL – https://uculondonregion.wordpress.com/2018/03/26/ucu-a-union-transformed


      1. UCU Rank and File Revolt, 29 April, 1-4pm at City – https://www.facebook.com/events/1748463668562948
  • To send delegates to these meetings and organise follow-up activities at QMUL to ensure that the momentum built during the strike is carried forward into genuine changes in working conditions at this university.


Motion 3: Motion of No Confidence in Sally Hunt as General Secretary of UCU


This branch notes that:


  1. The decision to put the recent UUK offer to immediate ballot without amendment by UCU (but as amended by UUK) did not command majority support among branch representatives at the meeting at UCU HQ on 28 March. However, the decision was pushed narrowly through the Higher Education Committee at the behest of General Secretary Sally Hunt.
  2. Members were therefore asked to vote on a vague proposal just as the Easter vacation was beginning, drastically reducing the opportunity for collective deliberation within branches.
  3. Dr Hunt’s subsequent communications to members falsely represented an immediate ballot as supported by a majority of branch representatives.
  4. Furthermore, Dr Hunt sent four emails to members during the ballot itself to influence the outcome, while allowing critics of the offer no opportunity to put their case.
  5. Moreover, Dr Hunt has repeatedly circumvented UCU’s elected negotiating team.
  6. This conduct reflects a longstanding pattern of behaviour and a severe democratic deficit at the heart of UCU.

This branch resolves:


  1. That it has no confidence in Sally Hunt’s continued leadership of UCU.
  2. To call on Sally Hunt to resign from the post of general secretary as soon as possible and trigger an election for her replacement.

Motion 4: Accountability of the Joint Expert Panel


This branch notes that:

The recent dissatisfaction felt by many branches, including this one, about how the UCU leadership and HE Committee failed to respond to branch calls for more clarity over the detail absent from the UUK offer presented to the UCU. Moving forward, the branch wants to see better transparency and communications over future arrangements for the establishment of the Expert Panel and its progress in seeking to resolve the pensions dispute.

This branch resolves that:


  1. The UCU leadership must establish a clear mechanism for communication and involvement of branches in future decisions over:
    1. the constitution of the Expert Panel;
    2. the progress made by the Panel over the valuation
    3. consultation over the outcomes and recommendations made by the Panel
  1. UCU must improve its communications with members and the wider public to counter UUK propaganda.

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