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Equality motions

UCU Congress 2021: online, Saturday 29 May 2021

Motions have been allocated to a section of the NEC's report to Congress (UCU1080). Paragraph headings refer to paragraphs within this report. (EP = existing policy.)

Section 5: equality committee


4  Campaigning for equality - National executive committee (EP)

Congress notes with concern the government's rhetorical shift away from pursuing equality for those with protected characteristics, and reaffirms UCU's commitment to challenging all forms of discrimination and prejudice.

Congress commends the progress made by the equality committee during 2020-­21 in furthering workplace equality, including work on:

  1. addressing the unequal impact of Covid-19 on black, disabled, LGBT+, migrant and women members
  2. building anti-racist environments and community accountability
  3. challenging sexual harassment
  4. promoting LGBT+ liberation
  5. protecting disability rights and challenging ableism
  6. supporting migrants and tackling the hostile environment
  7. improving employment rights for those with caring responsibilities.

Congress welcomes the increased focus on intersectionality within UCU's equality work in addressing the complex challenges facing members.

Congress supports the committee's continued focus on these areas and engagement with equality standing committees, branches and members, as well as national policy discussions, to take forward the fight for more equal and inclusive workplaces.

Carried as amended

4A.1 LGBT+ members standing committee

Add to congress notes new paragraph:

The recent rise in transphobia led to an attack on ILGA that linked homosexuality to pedophilia. Demonstrating that transphobia is a wedge issue that will lead to attacks on other protected characteristics.

Add to end:

Congress resolves:

  1. to strengthen working with affiliated international labour organisations to continue to resist push back on equality laws, as well as push for stronger workplace protections.
  2. to build cross party support on equality campaigning.

    Carried

Substantive motion

Congress notes with concern the government's rhetorical shift away from pursuing equality for those with protected characteristics, and reaffirms UCU's commitment to challenging all forms of discrimination and prejudice.

The recent rise in transphobia led to an attack on ILGA that linked homosexuality to pedophilia. Demonstrating that transphobia is a wedge issue that will lead to attacks on other protected characteristics.

Congress commends the progress made by the equality committee during 2020-­21 in furthering workplace equality, including work on:

  1. addressing the unequal impact of Covid-19 on black, disabled, LGBT+, migrant and women members
  2. building anti-racist environments and community accountability
  3. challenging sexual harassment
  4. promoting LGBT+ liberation
  5. protecting disability rights and challenging ableism
  6. supporting migrants and tackling the hostile environment
  7. improving employment rights for those with caring responsibilities.

Congress welcomes the increased focus on intersectionality within UCU's equality work in addressing the complex challenges facing members.

Congress supports the committee's continued focus on these areas and engagement with equality standing committees, branches and members, as well as national policy discussions, to take forward the fight for more equal and inclusive workplaces.

Congress resolves:

  1. to strengthen working with affiliated international labour organisations to continue to resist push back on equality laws, as well as push for stronger workplace protections.
  2. to build cross party support on equality campaigning.

5  Long Covid - University of Glasgow

Congress notes:

  1. estimates indicate 10-20% of those infected with SARS-CoV-2 develop complex Long Covid conditions
  2. many of those are unable to return to work, or experience significant limitations on what they are able to do when returning.

Congress believes:

  1. restrictive sick leave regulations and rule-bound occupational health determinations often make things worse
  2. many return to work too early for economic reasons
  3. Long Covid is likely to disproportionately impact some groups, and hence further exacerbate inequalities in pay, employment contracts, and promotion

Congress resolves to:

  1. strengthen existing UCU guidance for branches on how they can proactively support those with Long Covid (including adequate leave and/or workload adjustments, without detriment to careers)
  2. demand from employers that risks of Long Covid are acknowledged and accommodated in return-to-campus policy and procedures
  3. foster solidarity between UCU and other trade unions campaigning around Long Covid's impact on workers.

    Carried as amended

5A.1 Women members standing committee

Add a bullet point under 'Congress notes': 'The TUC has noted that Long Covid disproportionately affects women, in particular black, disabled and migrant women'

Add a bullet point under 'Congress resolves to': 'negotiate with employers that for the duration of the outbreak certificates will not be needed for periods of absence up to 14 days, that self certification will suffice. Employers with occupational sick pay schemes should agree that sickness absence or isolation will be disregarded in respect of pay reduction triggers. This has been agreed with several employers'.

Carried

Substantive motion

Congress notes:

  1. estimates indicate 10-20% of those infected with SARS-CoV-2 develop complex Long Covid conditions
  2. many of those are unable to return to work, or experience significant limitations on what they are able to do when returning
  3. the TUC has noted that Long Covid disproportionately affects women, in particular black, disabled and migrant women.

Congress believes:

  1. restrictive sick leave regulations and rule-bound occupational health determinations often make things worse
  2. many return to work too early for economic reasons
  3. Long Covid is likely to disproportionately impact some groups, and hence further exacerbate inequalities in pay, employment contracts, and promotion

Congress resolves to:

  1. strengthen existing UCU guidance for branches on how they can proactively support those with Long Covid (including adequate leave and/or workload adjustments, without detriment to careers)
  2. demand from employers that risks of Long Covid are acknowledged and accommodated in return-to-campus policy and procedures
  3. foster solidarity between UCU and other trade unions campaigning around Long Covid's impact on workers
  4. negotiate with employers that for the duration of the outbreak certificates will not be needed for periods of absence up to 14 days, that self certification will suffice. Employers with occupational sick pay schemes should agree that sickness absence or isolation will be disregarded in respect of pay reduction triggers. This has been agreed with several employers.

6  LGBT+ workers post Covid - LGBT+ members standing committee

Congress notes that:

  1. Covid-19 disproportionally impacts on black staff, and disabled staff;
  2. LGBT+ people are impacted by Covid-19 and many are also black and/or disabled
  3. numerous institutions are seeking to restructure following the financial impact of Covid-19 this will impact on LGBT+ workers

Congress believes LGBT+ members are sometimes disproportionately targeted for inclusion in ring-fenced 'at-risk' pools and subsequently selected for compulsory redundancy, or pressured into taking severance.

Congress resolves that:

  1. UCU will require all institutions to fully equality-impact-assess the likely consequences of any financial restructure on their LGBT+ workforce;
  2. UCU will lobby all institutions undertaking restructuring to compel each to produce a full EIA report outlining the likely impact of the restructure on the diversity of the workforce
  3. this reporting will include staff across all staff, with comparison across staff with and without protected characteristics, including the impact on LGBT+ staff.

    Carried

7  UCU Black Lives Matter Day - Black members standing committee

Congress notes 2021 saw the brutal slaying of George Floyd followed by an outpouring of support. The heightened awareness has highlighted the work needed to be done to improve the life, and education outcomes for black people in work, prisons, schools, colleges and universities across the nations.

Congress believes UCU must lead the way and play a significant role in bringing about meaningful change for all its members by working to redress the imbalance of black members on the NEC and in other decision-making roles

Congress resolves to

  1. launch a 'UCU BLACK LIVES MATTER DAY' every May in recognition of George Floyd and the BLM cause
  2. deliver workshops, training and resources to support branches to challenge racial injustice across all institutions
  3. actively support proposals driven by black members in a timely manner.

    Carried

8  Decolonising the Curriculum - National executive committee

Congress notes:

  1. continued institutional racism in universities and colleges and throughout society
  2. education's vital role in changing attitudes and contributing to real change. Congress recognises need to decolonise the curriculum and considers that BlackLivesMatter and some recognition of the need for reparations for institution benefits from the slave trade (e.g. Glasgow University) make this timely.

Calls on NEC to:

  1. produce branch and member resources on decolonising the curriculum
  2. encourage branches to negotiate curriculum decolonisation policies, procedures and implementation with management
  3. organise a discussion meeting
  4. pressure universities and colleges to ringfence funding for interdisciplinary and innovative reparation projects in collaboration with peoples and Gender pay must be at the heart of industrial strategy - Women members standing committee (EP)

Congress congratulates UCU for putting the gender pay gap at the heart of major industrial pay campaigns across all parts of post-16 education. The gender pay gap is pervasive, ongoing and increasing, and yet we note how rarely trade unions set it at the heart of UK industrial action.

The gender pay gap is exacerbated by a gendered pensions gap: TUC research shows that women have barely half the pensions savings of men in both defined contributions and defined benefits systems. The multiple discriminations faced by black, disabled and precariously employed women increase that detriment for them.

Congress agrees:

  1. to continue campaigning on all aspects of gender pay and pension detriment in post-16 education
  2. to include gender issues asdiscrete and specific aspects of campaigns on pay and pensions
  3. to include gender-specific negotiating points in future industrial action on pay and pensions.

Carried

9  Time to combat ableism - Disabled members' standing committee

Congress notes: UCU social model of disability policy is not fully implemented and that some disabled members at branch, region, and national level have faced barriers to participation and ableist hostility.

Congress believes that it is not acceptable for this situation to continue. Accessibility must be built into union communications, meetings and events.

Congress instructs the NEC to implement:

  1. clear demands in regard to disability equality built into pay negotiations
  2. to bring a rule change to Congress 2022 to ensure disabled members' access needs are met
  3. within three months:
    1. implement equality training for every NEC member to include understanding of ableist language; ableist assumptions and the legal duties of the union towards its members
    2. an audit, by a disabled access consultant in conjunction with the DMSC, of the union website, written materials, polices and procedures.
  4. within six months: a. Implement recommendations from the audit.

Carried

10  Gender pay must be at the heart of industrial strategy - Women members' standing committee

Congress congratulates UCU for putting the gender pay gap at the heart of major industrial pay campaigns across all parts of post-16 education. The
gender pay gap is pervasive, ongoing and increasing, and yet we note how rarely trade unions set it at the heart of UK industrial action.

The gender pay gap is exacerbated by a gendered pensions gap: TUC research shows that women have barely half the pensions savings of men in both defined contributions and defined benefits systems. The multiple discriminations faced by black, disabled and precariously employed women increase that
detriment for them.

Congress agrees:

  1. to continue campaigning on all aspects of gender pay and pension detriment in post 16 education
  2. to include gender issues as discrete and specific aspects of campaigns on pay and pensions
  3. to include gender-specific negotiating points in future industrial action on pay and pensions.

Carried as amended

10A.1 Migrant members standing committee

Add 'migrant' to the list in the final sentence of paragraph 2.

Carried

Substantive motion

Congress congratulates UCU for putting the gender pay gap at the heart of major industrial pay campaigns across all parts of post-16 education. The gender pay gap is pervasive, ongoing and increasing, and yet we note how rarely trade unions set it at the heart of UK industrial action.

The gender pay gap is exacerbated by a gendered pensions gap: TUC research shows that women have barely half the pensions savings of men in both defined contributions and defined benefits systems. The multiple discriminations faced by black, disabled, migrant and precariously employed women increase that detriment for them.

Congress agrees:

  1. to continue campaigning on all aspects of gender pay and pension detriment in post-16 education
  2. to include gender issues asdiscrete and specific aspects of campaigns on pay and pensions
  3. to include gender-specific negotiating points in future industrial action on pay and pensions.

11  End gender based violence - Women members standing committee

The appalling murder of Sarah Everard has demonstrated anew the extent of gender-based harassment and violence. The pandemic has highlighted issues of domestic violence, with estimates that one in three women will suffer domestic violence in their lifetime. While reports of rape have nearly doubled since 2015, gender-based violence is under-reported, including in post-16 education.

Violence against women is rooted in the oppressive system we live in, where women's bodies are used to sell products, dehumanised and presented as objects of gratification including in pornography. Black, migrant, disabled women and the LGBTQ++ community are disproportionately affected.

Congress calls upon NEC to:

  1. campaign and educate to end gender-based violence
  2. work with sister trade unions on this matter
  3. protest at every opportunity to raise this issue
  4. support Reclaim the Night demonstrations.

Carried as amended

11A.1 University of Sheffield

delete 'including in pornography'

Carried

11A.2 Women members standing committee

Add to bullet point 3: 'and oppose government plans to restrict the right to protest'.

Carried

11A.3 Migrant members standing committee

In resolves 4, insert 'Sisters Uncut and' before 'Reclaim the Night'.

Carried

Substantive motion

The appalling murder of Sarah Everard has demonstrated anew the extent of gender-based harassment and violence. The pandemic has highlighted issues of domestic violence, with estimates that one in three women will suffer domestic violence in their lifetime. While reports of rape have nearly doubled since 2015, gender-based violence is under-reported, including in post-16 education.

Violence against women is rooted in the oppressive system we live in, where women's bodies are used to sell products, dehumanised and presented as objects of gratification. Black, migrant, disabled women and the LGBTQ++ community are disproportionately affected.

Congress calls upon NEC to:

  1. campaign and educate to end gender-based violence
  2. work with sister trade unions on this matter
  3. protest at every opportunity to raise this issue and oppose government plans to restrict the right to protest
  4. support Sisters Uncut and Reclaim the Night demonstrations.

12  Adopting a better definition of antisemitism - University of Exeter

Congress notes:

  1. pressure from UK government for universities in England to adopt the controversial IHRA definition
  2. passed motions from the 2017 and 2018 UCU Congresses opposing adoption.

Congress believes that the definition:

  1. dangerously conflates racist views with legitimate political criticism
  2. threatens academic criticism of Israel, and Palestinian solidarity events
  3. undermines freedom of speech and intellectual thought central to Universities
  4. compromises the fight against antisemitism and racism.

Congress resolves:

  1. to develop a better definition of antisemitism through consultation with Jewish members and more widely and such that descriptions of the discriminatory nature and acts of Israel should not be treated eo ipso as antisemitic, without independent evidence of anti-Jewish intention;
  2. to call for a reject of the IHRA definition by universities that have not already adopted it, and for an amendment or codicil appended to it by universities that have already adopted it.

Carried as amended

12A.1 National executive committee

Add to believes:

  1. IHRA definition impedes campaigning against antisemitism.

Delete resolves i. and replace with:

  1. encourage institutions that want a definition to adopt Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism

Add to resolves:

  1. put pressure on institutions to campaign more actively against antisemitism
  2. fully support members attacked or victimised for supporting Palestinian rights or through abuse of IHRA definition.

Carried

Substantive motion

Congress notes:

  1. pressure from UK government for universities in England to adopt the controversial IHRA definition
  2. passed motions from the 2017 and 2018 UCU Congresses opposing adoption.

Congress believes that the definition:

  1. dangerously conflates racist views with legitimate political criticism
  2. threatens academic criticism of Israel, and Palestinian solidarity events
  3. undermines freedom of speech and intellectual thought central to Universities
  4. compromises the fight against antisemitism and racism
  5. IHRA definition impedes campaigning against antisemitism.

Congress resolves:

  1. encourage institutions that want a definition to adopt Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism
  2. to call for a reject of the IHRA definition by universities that have not already adopted it, and for an amendment or codicil appended to it by universities that have already adopted it
  3. put pressure on institutions to campaign more actively against antisemitism
  4. fully support members attacked or victimised for supporting Palestinian rights or through abuse of IHRA definition.

13  IHRA definition of antisemitism - London regional committee

Congress notes:

  1. Williamson's letter threatening universities unless they (a) adopt the 'IHRA working definition of antisemitism', and (b) implement it in staff and student codes of conduct
  2. UCU's policy opposition to the definition
  3. only a quarter of HEIs have adopted; of these many have 'adopted' but refused to implement
  4. the report of the UCL Working Group on Racism and Prejudice
  5. the risk that FE will be next.

Congress resolves to:

  1. condemn Williamson's intervention as an attack on institutional autonomy, on academic freedom and freedom of expression
  2. call on the general secretary to speak out
  3. call on branches to organise against the adoption, and to develop a briefing document for branches, drawing on the UCL report and BRICUP briefings
  4. organise a grassroots campaign on academic freedom and free speech on Israel, with a dedicated web page and resources on the UCU website.

Carried as amended

13A.1 University of Leeds

In notes 3, replace 'only a quarter of' with 'only some UK'

Add two notes:

  1. the alternative definition developed by Jewish and Israeli scholars of antisemitism in the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism (JDA)
  2. evidence of a chilling effect of the IHRA definition on teaching/supervision, and unfounded IHRA-based accusations and disciplinary action against staff.

Add new resolves:

  1. resist the creation of a hierarchy of racisms by avoiding definitions of specific forms and, where necessary, instead to press for adoption of the JDA as an alternative or a supplement to the IHRA.

Carried

13A.2 University College London

Add to Congress resolves section:

  1. to dedicate resources to, and support, individual members (and their branches) where the IHRA definition is being used to attack their legitimate free speech on Israel or Palestine.

Carried

13A.3 National executive committee

Add:

  1. Believes IHRA definition impedes campaigning against antisemitism

Add at end of resolves (and number appropriately):.

  1. encourage institutions that want a definition to adopt Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism
  2. put pressure on institutions to campaign more actively against antisemitism
  3. fully support members attacked or victimised for supporting Palestinian rights or through ab-use of IHRA definition.

Carried

13A.4 London retired members

  1. Add at end of Congress notes:
    1. the refusal by Tower Hamlets Council to allow the Big Ride for Palestine to book the use of a park in 2019.
  2. Add at end of Congress resolves to:
    1. support and call for members to participate in the Big Ride for Palestine 2021.

Carried

Substantive motion

Congress notes:

  1. Williamson's letter threatening universities unless they (a) adopt the 'IHRA working definition of antisemitism', and (b) implement it in staff and student codes of conduct
  2. UCU's policy opposition to the definition
  3. only some UK HEIs have adopted; of these many have 'adopted' but refused to implement
  4. the report of the UCL Working Group on Racism and Prejudice
  5. the risk that FE will be next
  6. the alternative definition developed by Jewish and Israeli scholars of antisemitism in the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism (JDA)
  7. evidence of a chilling effect of the IHRA definition on teaching/supervision, and unfounded IHRA-based accusations and disciplinary action against staff
  8. believes IHRA definition impedes campaigning against antisemitism
  9. the refusal by Tower Hamlets Council to allow the Big Ride for Palestine to book the use of a park in 2019

Congress resolves to:

  1. condemn Williamson's intervention as an attack on institutional autonomy, on academic freedom and freedom of expression
  2. call on the general secretary to speak out
  3. call on branches to organise against the adoption, and to develop a briefing document for branches, drawing on the UCL report and BRICUP briefings
  4. organise a grassroots campaign on academic freedom and free speech on Israel, with a dedicated web page and resources on the UCU website
  5. resist the creation of a hierarchy of racisms by avoiding definitions of specific forms and, where necessary, instead to press for adoption of the JDA as an alternative or a supplement to the IHRA
  6. to dedicate resources to, and support, individual members (and their branches) where the IHRA definition is being used to attack their legitimate free speech on Israel or Palestine
  7. encourage institutions that want a definition to adopt Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism
  8. put pressure on institutions to campaign more actively against antisemitism
  9. fully support members attacked or victimised for supporting Palestinian rights or through ab-use of IHRA definition
  10. support and call for members to participate in the Big Ride for Palestine 2021.

14  Support for the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism - University of Northampton

Congress notes:

  1. in March the Jerusalem Declaration on AntiSemitism (JD), signed by more than 200 Jewish scholars from Israel, the UK and the US, was issued
  2. this definition of antisemitism represents an alternative to the IHRA definition
  3. the IHRA definition has been rejected by UCU Congress votes in 2017 and 2018.

Believes:

  1. antisemitism, as other forms of racism, must be repudiated and campaigned against
  2. individuals have the right to criticise the Israeli government's treatment of the Palestinian population
  3. the 'weaponisation' of antisemitism against critics of the Israeli government's behaviour is unacceptable.

Resolves:

  1. to adopt the JD
  2. to urge universities and further education colleges to do likewise as an alternative to the IHRA definition
  3. to defend any UCU members facing disciplinary action because of alleged antisemitism for exercising their academic freedom and right to free speech in upholding the human rights of Palestinians.

Remitted

15  Promoting trans equality - UCU Scotland (EP)

UCU Congress notes:

  1. the UCU statement reaffirming UCU's commitment to trans inclusion
  2. our responsibility to promote equality and ensure the provisions of the Equality Act are implemented and adhered to by our members and in the sectors where we organise
  3. UCU's commitment and support for trans workers' rights and, as champions of equality, we welcome the increased visibility and empowerment of trans and non-binary people in our society
  4. the right of all women (including trans women) to safe spaces and the continuation of monitoring that can help identify discrimination against women, men and non-binary people.

The trade union movement's strength is to bring workers together in our values of equality and solidarity.

UCU congress opposes any violence, bullying or disrespect towards any group that faces discrimination, and calls on UCU UK to provide practical support and policy guidance for reps and trans members in challenging discrimination and harassment.

Carried as amended

15A.1 LGBT+ members standing committee

Final sentence, after 'guidance', add 'e.g. guidance on creating a gender identity policy'.

Add the following words at the end of the motion:

Congress calls on UCU to engage in enabling and equipping reps and members to engage with progressing gender identity equality by providing training on how to progress trans liberation and build solidarity.

Carried

Substantive motion

UCU Congress notes:

  1. the UCU statement reaffirming UCU's commitment to trans inclusion
  2. our responsibility to promote equality and ensure the provisions of the Equality Act are implemented and adhered to by our members and in the sectors where we organise
  3. UCU's commitment and support for trans workers' rights and, as champions of equality, we welcome the increased visibility and empowerment of trans and non-binary people in our society
  4. the right of all women (including trans women) to safe spaces and the continuation of monitoring that can help identify discrimination against women, men and non-binary people.

The trade union movement's strength is to bring workers together in our values of equality and solidarity.

UCU congress opposes any violence, bullying or disrespect towards any group that faces discrimination, and calls on UCU UK to provide practical support and policy guidance e.g. guidance on creating a gender identity policy for reps and trans members in challenging discrimination and harassment.

Congress calls on UCU to engage in enabling and equipping reps and members to engage with progressing gender identity equality by providing training on how to progress trans liberation and build solidarity.

16  Campaign for GRA reforms and against asylum seeker persecution - National executive committee (EP)

Congress notes:

That the rise of the alt right and political scapegoating has led to a very significant rise in LGBT+ hate crime and a consequent rise in LGBT+ asylum seekers. Congress further notes the failure of the government to implement the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) reforms.

Congress resolves:

  1. to raise the profile of the UCU campaign for reform of the GRA
  2. to campaign for an end to the persecution of asylum seekers.

Carried

17  BLM on campus - New City College Poplar, National Executive Committee (EP)

The Tories are using the guise of free speech to roll back the gains of the Black Lives Matter movement. Free speech and academic freedom are important and should be defended - but Gavin Williamson's plans are an attempt to prevent anti-racists from challenging institutional racism and the legacy of empire.

Specifically they aim to reject attempts to examine institutional links with colonialism, slavery and eugenics. Students and staff have the right to challenge racism in our educational institutions.

Congress resolves:

We should continue to work with antiracist groups, students and campus unions to continue and develop the decolonising movement that has grown over recent years.

Carried

18  Swiss referendum - National executive committee

In March Switzerland voted in favour of banning face coverings in public, including the burka or niqab worn by Muslim women. The proposal was put forward by the right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP) which campaigned with slogans such as 'Stop extremism'.

'Today's decision opens old wounds, further expands the principle of legal inequality, and sends a clear signal of exclusion to the Muslim minority,' the Central Council of Muslims said in a statement.

This vote occurred against the backdrop of similar moves by the Far Right in France and elsewhere.

These bans are not about promoting women's rights but are Islamophobic.We offer our solidarity to the Muslim community in Switzerland and will oppose any such moves in the UK.

Carried

L1  Condemnation of antisemitism and defence of Jewish members - National executive committee

Congress condemns the appalling attack on a north London Jewish community on Sunday 16 May in which antisemitic abuse was broadcast from a megaphone. This was one example of an increase in antisemitic attacks in the UK and other European countries involving physical assaults and threats, attacks on synagogues and Holocaust memorials, the daubing of antisemitic graffiti and increases in antisemitic discourse on social media.

Congress reiterates UCU's policy of active opposition to antisemitism and its commitment to the defence of its Jewish members against discriminatory behaviour and abuse.

Congress resolves to continue to campaign actively against antisemitism and to make its stance clear in its antiracist activities, policies and public statements.

Carried

L2  Condemnation of Boris Johnson - National executive committee

UCU condemns Boris Johnson's meeting with antisemitic, Islamophobic, homophobic and anti Roma Far Right leader Viktor Orban, Prime Minister of Hungary in Downing Street 28 May 2021.

Carried

Last updated: 3 August 2021