Annual Congress is the supreme decision-making body of our union. It comprises two sections: a two-day conference bringing together all the post-16 education sectors of the union, and a one-day conference for each of the FE and HE sectors.
Congress 2022 took place online but voting this year took place live via a platform provided by Civica (the same organisation which organises industrial action ballots). This change was widely welcomed, but it did take time for votes to be recorded and the results announced. As a result, a large number of motions were not discussed, including the whole section on Education.
The full text of all motions can be found here. Many passed without opposition. This report will focus on the key motions, including those which were contested.
Congress Day 1
Motion 5 on Proportional Representation passed by a large majority, as did Motion 13 on making subs rates more progressive, and Motions 15 and 16, which made changes concerning the regulation of members’ conduct. Motion 17 formalised the move to real time voting at conferences.
Two motions focused on the General Secretary’s (GS) role in the ongoing UK-wide disputes over the Four Fights and USS pensions. Motion 19 censuring the GS over the conduct of these disputes, was narrowly defeated. Motion L1 (‘L’ depicts a ‘late’ motion) – less explicitly critical of the GS – won by a narrow majority.
HE Sector Conference (USS and Four Fights disputes)
Motion HE3, re failures in USS governance, was passed by a substantial majority.
HE6, a detailed motion outlining a strategy for effective industrial action in the HE disputes, was carried by a small majority. As amended, this commits the union to an aggregated UK-wide industrial action ballot over the USS and Four Fights disputes beginning as soon as possible this month and running until September.
HE7 and HE8, respectively requiring weekly ‘Get The Vote Out’ branch updates from Civica for this ballot and that this ballot should be in aggregated form, were also passed, in both cases with a larger majority.
HE10 and HE11 both focused on the democratic conduct of disputes, stressing the need for Branch Delegate Meetings (BDMs) to take place prior to HE Committee (HEC) decisions on industrial action, and that HEC should take full account of votes at BDMs.
Another late motion, L7, highlighted and promoted the ‘Twin to win’ campaign. This concerns a group of branches which secured a mandate in the last ballot on Four Fights and USS and have over recent weeks carried out a (remarkably successful) marking and assessment boycott aimed at keeping the dispute active until the next UK-wide steps have been arranged.
L8, criticising delays to industrial action, was passed by a large majority.
Congress Day 2
Congress saw considerable debate over a group of Equalities motions concerning different aspects of rights for trans people. Motion 38, the focus of some controversy in this branch and elsewhere prior to Congress, was stripped of sections (a) and (c) by the Congress Business Committee following legal advice. This and the other motions in this group were subsequently passed with similarly large majorities.
One rule change was agreed by the required two-thirds majority at Congress. Motion 55 will mean that smaller UCU branches will be better represented at future conferences. Motion 57 committed the union to establishing a branch delegate-based industrial action committee to run industrial action. Although passed, Motion 57 did not secure a two-thirds majority so therefore fell.
As Imperial UCU’s only delegate at Congress, I voted in favour of all the motions outlined above, including those calling for an aggregated ballot, and Motion 19, which was lost.
All other motions were remitted to the National Executive Committee.
I will present a report to at the next Imperial UCU members’ meeting on Wednesday 15th June about the decisions of Congress and HESC and will be happy to answer any questions.
Roddy Slorach, June 2022