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UCU at TUC Congress 2018

14 September 2018 | last updated: 21 September 2018

It was a busy few days for UCU delegates at the 150th anniversary TUC in Manchester this week

UCU's general secretary Sally Hunt had the honour of opening the 150the TUC Congress in Manchester. Unions were back in the city to celebrate where the movement was born in 1868. Sally's opening address took delegates through a history of the trade union movement and finished with a tribute to the Bryant and May match girls.

UCU president Vicky Knight then moved a vote of thanks to Sally for her year as TUC president, which allowed her to reveal that Sally had an autograph book with trade union leaders' signatories and has worked as a bouncer.

Vicky was soon back on the stage speaking in the equalities debate. Speaking to the sexual harassment motion she said the trade unions had to do more to call out harassment both in the workplace and in the union movement.

Rhiannon Lockley spoke to a motion about abortion telling delegates that women must make their own decisions, concluding with: "our bodies, our lives and our right to decide".

Past president Joanna de Groot rounded off the union's contributions to the debate for the day asking for solidarity with Turkish academics who are facing terrorism charges simply for signing petitions calling for peace and sharing news articles on social media.

Prison educator Brian Hamilton kicked things off for UCU on Monday speaking to a motion about violence in prisons. He said that staff should expect dignity and safety at work, as well as the resources to do their jobs properly.

The education debate took place on Monday afternoon with UCU vice-president Nita Sanghera and president-elect Douglas Chalmers both speaking at length. Nita focussed her ire on the failings of those in charge of further education and told delegates that you cannot put a price on education.

Douglas picked up on the mismanagement theme in UCU's support for a National Education Service, noting that since 2011 university budgets have increased by 25%, but mature student participation has fallen by 60%. While further education budgets have fallen by 24% with 1 million adults losing out.

UCU's Rob Clunas spoke to the first motion of Tuesday morning arguing that the TUC's policies on energy, industrial strategy and climate change needed to be determined by the whole movement - not just unions in the energy sector. He highlighted motions brought from a wide range of unions for debate and said that UCU also had a clear interest as our members will be educating existing and future workers in new skills.

In the afternoon, Vicky Knight was back on stage moving the union's motion on the politics of hate. She told delegates that we had to unite against the normalisation of the bigotry and hatred of the far right, masquerading as a defence of freedom of speech.

On Wednesday Dave Muritu returned to the need to combat the far right as he spoke on behalf of an emergency motion from UCU, winning support from the TUC for a 17 November demo in London against the far right.

Speaking in the debate about public sector pay, Sean Vernell thanked delegates for their support during the union's pensions and pay strikes this year. While Vicky Blake speaking to a motion calling for a better deal for young people said target-driven education systems damaged youngsters before they had even begun to reach their potential.

The event finished on Wednesday afternoon when Sally Hunt brought proceedings to a close and handed the presidential reins over to PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka.

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