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UCU delegates vote for international solidarity

28 May 2008 | last updated: 14 December 2015

Delegates at UCU Congress this afternoon reaffirmed their commitment to helping international colleagues denied the freedoms they enjoy.

A series of motions called for greater links and solidarity with trade unionists from Darfur, Zimbabwe, Palestine and Burma. Delegates debated a Palestinian motion at length and passed one which supported solidarity with Palestinian academics and did not call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

Commenting on the motions passed this afternoon, Sally Hunt said: 'Delegates in Manchester for UCU congress this week have the freedom to debate a whole host of issues. They can do this without worrying about being arrested, beaten and even killed. There are trade unionists around the world that are not so fortunate and we must never take our freedom to debate, whatever the issue, for granted.

'Because of the constant misreporting of the motions considered by UCU's Congress, I feel I have to state that we have passed a motion to provide solidarity with the Palestinians, not to boycott Israel or any other country's academic institutions. I made clear to delegates that the union will defend their right to debate this and other issues. Implementation of the motion within the law will now fall to the national executive committee (NEC).'

Sally Hunt had earlier told delegates that educators were often singled out for the harshest treatment in those countries that denied trade unionists freedom. In her keynote speech she said: 'Freedom of thought and the freedom to learn are rights that are at the heart of democratic civil society. Our international obligation is to provide meaningful solidarity wherever we can, whether to teachers in Columbia in fear of their lives; lecturers in Zimbabwe warned to shut up or face the consequences; or students and staff in Palestine unable to get through checkpoints in order to continue study.'