UCU tactics

June 12, 2014

We, the undersigned members of the 2013-14 University and College Union Higher Education Committee, write in response to the article “UCU militants press for maximum strike force” (News, 5 June).

First, last year’s conference did not vote to commence a marking boycott in January: this proposal was in a draft plan put forward by the national negotiators in the autumn.

Second, it is important to emphasise that the HEC decision to alter our tactics was taken in December and was based on careful consideration of feedback from branches and, most importantly, members.

Third, readers should be aware that the HEC is directly elected by the members. This has two crucial implications. We are answerable to the members who voted for us on a platform of carefully chosen strategic action: we do not undertake disputes for the sake of it, as some others seem to advocate.

The acceptance of the 2 per cent pay deal by just under 84 per cent of the members in a 53 per cent turnout demonstrates that we understood where the membership were on the marking boycott: to embark on a marking boycott that was not supported would have delivered exactly what management wanted.

Fourth, during the ballot period some activists claimed that their members rejected the deal in meetings, but this was not reflected in the ballot results in which every branch had a majority for the offer. Did branch delegates take the known views of their own branch members into account when voting at conference?

Finally, it is unfortunate that many members of the HEC appeared happy to vote for the censure motion despite the fact that they had been present at the meetings when these decisions were democratically taken. UCU’s tactics are only as strong as the support that it gains from members. This is why we know we took the right decision to change tactics in December and to put the offer to members in April.

Joanna de Groot, vice-president higher education
Dominique Lauterburg, vice-chair, HEC
Jimmy Donaghey, vice-chair, HEC
Simon Renton, immediate past president
Angela Roger, national treasurer
David Anderson, HEC
Harriet Bradley, HEC
Steve Clark, outgoing HEC
Pauline Collins, outgoing HEC
Joe Gluza, HEC
David Goode, HEC
Terry Hoad, HEC
Mary Jennings, HEC
Angela Lamb, HEC
Martin Levy, HEC
Susan Michie, HEC
Terry Murphy, HEC
Steve Sangwine, HEC
Roger Walters, HEC
Gordon Watson, HEC

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