Solidarity to staff in Greek universities opposing the bill that permits the establishment of private universities

Solidarity to staff in Greek universities opposing the bill that permits the establishment of private universities.

Brunel UCU express our solidarity to colleagues and students in Greece who mobilise against the establishment of private universities in Greece.

Greek universities remain tuition-free to this date due to the decades-long, relentless action by student and labour unions. This bill will deliver a fatal blow to free public higher education, ultimately forcing public universities to impose tuition fees to compete against private providers.

In the UK, we know the consequences of the marketisation of Higher Education only too well; the only results this bill is guaranteed to achieve are worse working conditions for staff, barriers to Higher Education- especially for students from disadvantaged backgrounds- and research and teaching dictated by the market and not by the needs of society.

[Unanimous vote as an informal resolution at an EGM 17.01.24]

Brunel UCU Motion: Solidarity to Palestine – defending our right to freedom of speech

Brunel University UCU expresses its sadness and devastation at the recent massacres in Israel and ongoing genocide in Gaza targeted at civilians, and affirms our solidarity with the Jewish people, and the Palestinian people in their struggle for liberation and decolonisation. We understand that many in our community will be affected by these events and we extend our support to all of them, especially to those students and colleagues who may have lost loved ones or whose loved ones are under direct threat of attack. We mourn the loss of life, defend our right to freedom of speech and protest, and condemn all forms of racism, including antisemitism, anti-Palestinianism, and Islamophobia.

This branch notes:

  1. The bloodshed in the Middle East that has been going on and rising for days and has already resulted in thousands of innocent people losing their lives in Israel and Gaza and many more injured. Palestinians in Gaza live without food, water and electricity while an unprecedented siege and murderous attack is being carried out to flatten the Gaza Strip with rising numbers of Palestinian civilian victims, which threatens to ignite the entire Middle East region.
  2. The 75-year occupation and illegal settlement of the occupied Palestinian territories by the Israeli state and the continuous, daily crimes, the apartheid regime, as well as the inhumane 17-year blockade of Gaza. These crimes against the people of Palestine have been committed for decades, under the tolerance and support from all the large imperialist powers, the USA, the UK and the European Union and the rest of their NATO allies.
  3. The British government is complicit in colonial occupation and war crimes, from the Balfour Declaration and the suppression of the Arab Revolt right up to the current government’s political, economic and military backing for Israel’s far-right government in its collective punishment of Palestinian residents of Gaza. Israel is committing collective punishment against the people of Gaza with the full support of the British government.
  4. The worrying rise of attacks on academic freedom across UK campuses, fuelled by the divisive and hypocritical position of the Home Secretary, and perpetuated through abusive reporting in news outlets and social media, which led already to anti-democratic actions such as the suspension of the UCL Marxist society from the UCUL SU. We highlight the dangers of the IHRA definition of antisemitism on free speech and academic freedom as articulated in the recent BRISMES/ELSC report.

This branch believes that:

  1. The root cause of the conflict is the ongoing illegal military occupation and settlement expansion of Palestinian territories and the violation of the rights of the Palestinian people by the Israeli state. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Israeli B’tselem have reported that these accumulate to the crime of Apartheid.
  2. There can be no lasting or just peace under the ongoing conditions of the Israeli siege of Gaza, or of Israeli occupation, colonisation, and apartheid across Palestine. These are conditions which Palestinians have a right to resist.
  3. The only way to secure and consolidate peace and security for the people in Palestine and Israel, but also in the wider Middle East, is to immediately end the Israeli occupation and settlement in the occupied Palestinian and Syrian territories, as provided for in the UN resolutions, and to guarantee the right of return of Palestinian refugees.

Brunel UCU resolves to:

Raise our voices in solidarity at the face of genocide and erasure, standing with the Palestinian people, with our colleagues in Birzeit University, and in all Palestinian Universities, colleges schools, and Palestinian trade unions: we will not be silent, and that indeed now are all Palestinians. We call on members and colleagues to participate in solidarity protests.

Firmly oppose racism in all forms. We unequivocally declare that it is unacceptable to equate all Jewish people with the Israeli state; and that is unacceptable to equate all Palestinians and Arabs with Hamas. All members should be able to express their opinions, and everyone should be free to criticise governments across the world. This includes being free to criticise the Israeli government without accusations of antisemitism. This is indeed what some Jewish organisations already are doing. Following the recommendations of the ELSC/BRISMES, we call on Brunel University to rescind the adoption of the IHRA definition.

In addition to the actions that have already been taken by the national UCU on Israel/Gaza and on Academic Freedom, Call on UCU to:

1 Activate and promote the recent congress resolutions in support of Palestine and to stand against the government’s attempt to put under attack the academic free speech and to threaten critical academics and students for supporting the cause of the Palestinian people.

2 Coordinate actions with sister unions and demand from the UK government to:

a) Stop supporting the Israeli invasion in Gaza and to withdraw all UK military, navy and airforce from the area.

b) Promote the only just and peaceful resolution to the Palestinian cause, with the immediate recognition of the Palestinian state at the 1967 borders.

c) Guarantee free speech and democratic rights by withdrawing authoritarian policing measures and threats against protesters from the Home Secretary, and also, reaffirm the right of academics to discuss these in class and in their research – as enshrined in the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill  regulated by the Office for Students.

d)     Support BDS.

[Passed at a quorate branch meeting: 23.10.23]

BUCU Motion: Protect the academic freedom to support the Palestinian anti-colonial struggle

This Branch notes:

  • The attempts to intimidate and silence Palestinians around the world, including the murder of a child in Chicago and the cancellation by the Frankfurt Book Fair of a ceremony to honour the author Adania Shibli.
  • Similar attempts in Britain, including: HMG’s demand that civil-society institutions side publicly and overtly with the Israeli state; the Home Secretary’s threatened restrictions on displaying the flag of Palestine; recent arrests of protestors for no other reason than that they wore the keffiyeh and/or held a Palestine flag; the police-enforced cancellation of the launch by the Jewish American journalist Nathan Thrall of his “A Day in the Life of Abed Salama: A Palestine Story.’
  • The proliferation of McCarthyite attacks on academic freedom across UK campuses, whipped up by national newspapers, which have targeted academics and suspended students and student societies who have expressed support for the Palestinians’ anti-colonial struggle.
  • The statement by BRISMES on “the Attack on Free Speech on UK Campuses

 This Branch believes:

  • Freedom of speech and association are the lifeblood of a functioning democracy.
  • Governments should not use war as a pretext to clamp down on protest.
  • Trade unionists should defend the right of students and academics to express solidarity with Palestinians, at this time when the freedom to do so is increasingly being curtailed by universities and the British government.
  • Attempts by the Israeli government and its supporters to define antisemitism in ways that prohibit criticism of Israel signify the attempt to silence defenders of Palestinian rights, and, in practice, debase the struggle against antisemitism itself.

Brunel UCU resolves to:

  • Call on Brunel University to reassure academic staff that the right to education, freedom of speech, and academic freedom will be protected.
  • Give its full support to UCU’s national policy to protect students and staff who find themselves under attack for expressing support for the Palestinians’ anti-colonial struggle.

[Passed at a quorate branch meeting: 23.10.23]

MAB Resources

UCU’s higher education committee (HEC) voted to begin a marking and assessment boycott (MAB) from Thursday 20 April 2023. This means that from Thursday 20 April 2023, we are asking all UCU members in universities which are part of the UCU Rising disputes to cease undertaking all summative marking and associated assessment activities/duties. The boycott also covers assessment-related work such as exam invigilation and the processing of marks.

UCU HQ MAB FAQs: UCU – Marking and assessment boycott FAQs

BUCU MAB Letter/Resource for Students: Info for students on the marking and assessment boycott [MAB] | Brunel UCU

Local BUCU MAB FAQ: BUCU MAB FAQs | Brunel UCU

MAB Poster – Student information: https://brunel.web.ucu.org.uk/files/2023/04/MAB_StudentPoster.pdf

MAB Poster – Staffroom advice: https://brunel.web.ucu.org.uk/files/2023/04/MAB_StaffPoster.pdf

UCU HQ Recorded MAB Training session, delivery notes and slides: UCU – Marking and assessment boycott 2023

HQ Weekly MAB Meetings:

UCU Branch Resources:

UCU University of Liverpool MAB video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5yNG7Fwew8UCU Goldsmiths University MAB notes https://notesfrombelow.org/article/notes-marking-and-assessment-boycottNotes From Below MAB Road Map https://notesfrombelow.org/article/road-map-branch-activists-organising-successful-maUCU QMUL 2022 notes on strikes and MABs https://qmucu.org/2022/05/03/guidance-for-participating-in-the-strike-marking-boycott/UCU QMUL 2022 MAB advice for students https://qmucu.org/2022/05/03/letter-to-students-on-strike-action-and-marking-assessment-boycott/UCU University of Leeds FAQs on MABs for students https://www.leedsucu.org.uk/marking-and-assessment-boycott-guidelines/

Informal Resolution 27.02.23

No Sellout

This branch notes that

  1. The employers’ “offers” on pay and conditions and USS are not strong enough to qualify for a pause of action: no improvement with respect to the 5-6% pay uplift, that union members have already rejected, has been offered; vague promises to discuss casualisation and workload frameworks do not constitute an offer; the restoration of our USS benefits and reduced member fees are conditional on the outcome of the valuation; and consulting UCEA members on abolishing “involuntary” zero-hours contracts adds insult to injury, by adding caveats to abolishing the most exploitative form of work contract, even as it claims to be a move of good will from the employers.
  2. Neither branches, nor the Union’s democratic structures (HEC and negotiators) have been consulted in order to pause the action, which is a direct violation of our Union’s rules.

This branch believes that

  1. Pausing the strike action now amounts to a sellout of our struggle. It weakens us in the dispute with the employers and is damaging the prospects of the ongoing negotiations to deliver an outcome to our favour.
  2. We are in this action to win, and the current non-promises are far from winning anything of substance.
  3. The current “offer” is also divisive, by overplaying promises to uplift the lowest paid only, which deliberately creates a rift between the various unions representing university workers.
  4. Members’ control of the dispute is the only way for it to be effective, by uniting members, all campus unions, and students around our demands.
  5. Maximum pressure has to be exerted to the employers now, in order for those negotiations to have any effect. If our leadership is not willing to do this, we are.
  6. Not addressing members’ concerns regarding the pause at the live UCU event by the GS on the evening of 21 February can cause members to withdraw support at a time when unity is of outmost importance.

This branch resolves to

  1. Call upon the UCU GS and HEC members to stop the pausing of strike action, call back the strikes, and contribute in the discussion to find ways to keep up the momentum of our struggle.
  2. To call upon the HEC to give notice to the employers immediately for strike action on 9 and 10 March, including for the 15th of March to be a strike day in order to coordinate with other striking unions on the date the government budget is unveiled.
  3. Continue building our own branch’s organising and membership strength, by focusing on research and academic related/professional services staff and coordination with the Student Union and other student organisations, and other campus unions, including outsourced workers.
  4. Call under Rule 16.11 for a Special Higher Education Sector Conference to debate and direct the future of our disputes. Notice for this SHESC should be issued as soon as the number of branches requesting it reaches twenty.

Strike Resources

1 FAQ Info for students on mandate for action

Info for students on mandate for action | Brunel UCU

2 UCU HQ Out of Office (Strike and Action Short of Strike)

UCU – Out of office messages

3 BUCU Branch Out of Office (Strike)

I am not able to check email today as members of Brunel UCU are taking industrial action, along with members at 150 other universities, due to the urgent need to press for fair pay, manageable workloads, secure contracts and equality at work. The real-terms pay of HE staff has fallen by an estimated 25% since 2009. Members of Brunel UCU will be on strike on the following days – please do not email on these days as I will not be able to respond to emails sent to me on strike days on my return.

If you would like more information about the dispute, please go to UCU – FAQs. If you are a student, please visit our Info for students on mandate for action | Brunel UCU and contact vc@brunel.ac.uk to find out what steps the University is taking to avoid a dispute, we are urgently looking for meaningful negotiations so that we can all return to work. You can also contact the Students’ Union for independent advice and support: Home (brunelstudents.com)

4 BUCU Branch PPT slide for talking through the action with students 

Brunel UCU IA LECTURE SLIDE 2023

5 UCU HQ Strike FAQs

https://www.ucu.org.uk/article/12469/FAQs

6 BUCU Strike Calendar

Monday 25th September 2023

Tuesday 26th September 2023

Wednesday 27th September 2023

Thursday 28th September 2023

Friday 29th September 2023

7 Physical Pickets

27th Wednesday Physical Picket Location: 1.00pm-3.00pm, EGW Entrance.

8 Virtual Pickets

Link in member inboxes:

Monday 25th September 2023 09:00-10:00

Tuesday 26th September 2023 09:00-10:00

Thursday 28th September 2023 09:00-10:00

Friday 29th September 2023 09:00-10:00

9 Teach Outs

Tuesday 25 September, 10am to 12pm online

Register to participate here: http://bit.ly/202309strikeweek 

Title: Organising the Sep 2023 Four Fights Strikes through the lens of an Occupational Therapy Model: a Facilitated Discussion

Facilitator Profile: Jou Yin Teoh is a Senior Lecturer and Department UCU Representative for Health Sciences. She is also Chair of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists Learning and Development Board and a 2022-23 Council of Deans of Health Fellow.

Wednesday 26 September, 1pm ESWG Picket Line

Title: Striking and Collective Organising as Transformative Occupations

Speaker Profile: Mike Griffin is a highly specialist occupational therapist in palliative care. He is also a shop steward and member of the national British Association of Occupational Therapists (Royal College of Occupational Therapists) / UNISON Panel.

Thursday 27 September, 3pm to 5pm online

Register to participate here: http://bit.ly/202309strikeweek 

Title: Challenging Coloniality in Occupational Therapy Theory and Practice

Speaker Profile: Michael Iwama is a Professor at Duke University, USA and was formerly Dean of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at MGH Institute of Health Professions. He has held academic appointments in seven (7) universities in four (4) countries and is internationally renowned for his work developing the Kawa Model.

10 Emails and Outlook forwarding

Please set up auto forwarding during the strike days if your usual mode of communication for Brunel UCU is your work email. This means you will receive any updates from us without having to access your work email account.

11 Informing the University about your strike action

Members are under no obligation to inform HR, or indeed any other member of staff, about their intentions to undertake strike action if you are going to be on strike. If a manager asks, you can politely decline to answer that question in advance of taking part in any forthcoming action.

Members also do not need to notify the Director of HR, or anyone else, immediately after every day of strike action if strike days are consecutive. Our first day of strike action is on Monday 25th September. After that period of strike action, if full time, your next day of work would be Monday 2nd October. That’s the day to confirm that you have taken part in action, once you have been asked to notify. If you work part-time, then you would notify, if asked, the next day that you are scheduled to work after this period of strike action.

See the relevant UCU Strike FAQ here: https://www.ucu.org.uk/article/12469/FAQs#Do_I_have_to_tell_my_employer_in_advance_that_I_am_taking_industrial_action?

12 UCU Picketing guidance

What is the law on picketing?  https://www.ucu.org.uk/article/12469/FAQs#What_is_the_law_on_picketing?_

 

Help us Get The Vote Out! #UCURising

We are getting ballot ready!

You will be aware that, following recent Congress and HEC decisions, UCU will be balloting its members on the UCU Rising campaign in the autumn.  This campaign was launched to members last Wednesday 10 August – if you missed the launch, you can find the recording here. 

This is a call for volunteers to help us with our local Get The Vote Out plans (GTVO).

If you have some time to spare to remind colleagues to vote, please get in touch, especially if your department does not currently have a UCU rep: Committee | Brunel UCU. Even if you only have a few hours over the Autumn, it would be much appreciated: cmaxfield@ucu.org.uk

If you are new to GTVO, there are lots of resources and help on hand.

It is important to note that this time round the ballots will be aggregated, which means in order for all HE branches to be able to take action we need to exceed the 50% threshold nationally.  We are hopeful that with some early planning and actions from us all, we can beat the 50% barrier this time round.

Please see here for updated FAQ on the disputes: UCU – FAQs

We look forward to hearing from you!