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Zenscara @zenscara
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Thread on yesterday's #UCU Higher Education Committee (HEC), esp UK-wide Pay+Equality dispute + potential next steps. Making efforts to de-jargonify + de-acronym it, but recommend @Rachellaracohen's #USSbriefs23 to understand structures if confused… /1
Y’day’s HEC was another packed schedule for 11-430 meeting. Attendance hit by Thur scheduling (unfortunate but probably unavoidable). Loads of important work + pressing Pay+Equality ballot + USS dispute. For the latter 2 we were considering motions to send to the 7 Nov HESCs /2
HEC = Higher Ed members of the National Executive Committee (NEC). We meet regularly between Congresses to enact @ucu policy as decided democratically at annual Congress, and to make 'steering' decisions in line with this. However "HESC" meetings are also policy-forming... /3
As well as annual Higher Education Sector Conference ('at' Congress) members can call for Special HESCs; on Nov 7th we have two: one on Pay+Equality dispute, and one on USS. Branches + HEC can send motions to propose policy, if passed they can direct/change next steps /4
Difficult to detail all in thread, but will have go at main themes from current disputes. Also important to know we made decisions on gender pay, workload+anticas+passed emergency solidarity motions re Pittsburgh + Brazil. Also important reminders on 7 Dec REF + post-92 HESCs /5
Important: what HEC decided yesterday on Pay+Equality / USS dispute, with respect to proposals in papers, motions, etc., can be either confirmed or superseded by the decisions of the 2 HESCs on 7 Nov. This matters, especially as (in theory) HESCS offer more time to discuss /6
Yesterday, there really wasn't enough time to discuss properly. Lack of time for debate affects dynamics enormously. We need to address this issue with our structures. Not sure yet what answer is, but hope the new Democracy Commission will help explore ways to foster dialogue /7
There was a mix of papers + motions, some marked confidential (industrial sensitivity) some not. Hard to know exactly which bits ok to tweet + important to respect the danger posed by blabbing about position(s) in public before we have had HESCs to decide our actual course /8
(The positions taken at HEC should be presented to the delegates at HESC on 7 November) /9
As you might expect, discussion over Pay+Equality dispute + motions covered positives and negatives of a turnout that's a record high but below (fecking) anti-TU Act 2016 threshold + consideration of reballot. Several motions/amendments suggested 35%+ branches try again /10
There was also discussion of how we might take stock, do things differently: including motion by me (which received friendly amendment to add stuff -we get 150 words for motions!), and themes+proposals around learning/planning in a confidential paper from a national official /11
(See here for motion I took to HEC yesterday day called "Proper Discussion of How We Bargain+Strategise Nationally" (NB I should've written "UK-wide" as "nationally" elides how we represent devolved nations - my bad) + friendly amendment: ) /12
Upshot of debate (paper + motions re HEC position on next steps; NB next steps decided at HESC next Wednesday): quite a lot of consensus over turnout (historically high for P+E dispute, multifactorial issues re missing 50% threshold) but no consensus yet on how to proceed /13
Several motions pushed for reballoting branches who made 35% turnout, ie another go at this year's pay claim. No *motions* calling for "no further action" but 1 proposal in confidential paper on pay on offer for us to vote for "no action". We didn't have much discussion time /14
I'll try to explain my voting pattern on this later in thread, but think it's important to understand that UCU is in a period of reviewing how our whole democracy works + that we're all learning from recent disputes across FE+HE, esp in light of the TU Act 50% threshold bar /15
This makes it extra frustrating to be in middle of what most recognise as Very Important Time for our union, yet struggling for enough time + space for proper dialogue about options + analysis of how to make them work. Partially a product of overloaded, stressed work lives? /16
This is why it's so important everyone registered for 7 Nov HESCs turns up - it's the best space available for making decisions that have more debate + more options to explore together in a dedicated 3.5 hours rather than 1 item of many in an HEC meeting /17
Product of very close votes on HEC's position essentially:
- Did not vote to not take further action this negotiating round
- Did not vote to reballot branches who made 35% turnout
(-But did not vote to not reballot at all)
- Did vote for range ways to open dialogue w members /18
Also: one motion went through (after some confusion over 'consequentials' from other votes) that we should reballot post-92s who reached over 35% in the P+E ballot.
All of this probably sounds quite messy - it was b/c no real consensus - I think speaks to time + space we had /19
[What's a 'consequential'?: formal term for if a vote on a motion or proposal (or paper containing proposals) means part of another motion/proposal would de facto 'fall' as a result of a prior 1 just having been voted as the position/policy. Ordering of motion votes matters.] /20
We were v split, almost 50/50. I voted against re-balloting branches at 35%+ turnout, abstained on motion which singled out post-92 branches, and a 'no further action this yr' proposal. This might look weird for me/may seem not to hang together - so why did I vote like this? /21
I asked for feedback from members across UK (though inhibited by lack of formal mechanism in place): I tweeted, asked for emails via branch, region, etc. I got some really thoughtful responses but haven't been overwhelmed by replies. Our branch has GTVO debrief coming up Mon /22
Voting was hard. Lots of ppl contacted me w analysis of how things went, ranging from deep hurt at the turnout, to optimism that it was better than P+E dispute turnouts have been for a long time. Most responses were looking long term rather than the immediate reballot/not Q /23
Members contacting me tended to talk about mixed emotions + concern that we need to 'regroup' in some way. Some uncertain about reballoting, some very worried about prospect of doing it + 'what if' + asking what would internal threshold be to determine if it will be effective /24
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