Sally Hunt, UCU General Secretary
United Kingdom

Dear Sally,

We note the results of the ballot to effect constitutional change in the University and College Union as communicated by you in March. We believe this ballot was conducted in undue haste following your re-election as general secretary in pursuit of a narrow political agenda to stifle legitimate opposition within the union, including by elected national executive committee members. There was insufficient time to debate what are critical issues for members.

Subsequent to the ballot, we note that there has been a marked increase in “personal” communication between you and the membership on major issues – most recently the Universities Superannuation Scheme. As a union we would not tolerate management engaging individually and directly with our members and bypassing established collective and democratic machinery, and we are thus concerned about such an approach from our union. We are opposed to the individualistic turn that the UCU appears to be taking, since it undermines collective processes and is being falsely counterpoised to building inclusive and participatory activism in the workplace.

This year’s UCU congress voted to adopt motions 63, 64 and L5, which raise concerns about the misuse of membership surveys to bypass democratic structures and encourage “timidity and inertia” (in the wording of Motion 63), particularly in the absence of proper time for discussion within branches and committees. Motion L5 calls for union officials and structures to abide by congress decisions, and to use online surveys subsequent only to their debate by congress, sector conference or the NEC (and as sanctioned by the NEC).

Motions 65 and 67, in support of your proposal to reduce the NEC’s size, were defeated. However, as part of your congress speech, you promised to continue to campaign for the reforms regardless of the congress decision. This has worrying implications for union democracy.

At a time when UCU members are facing unprecedented attacks on their jobs, terms, conditions and values, it is crucial that the union remains democratic and open.

We fear that a turn to sectarianism will damage our ability to fight for accessible and public higher education and will undermine open debate inside and outside the union. We seek to move forward in a manner that reflects and promotes the spirit of the congress and acts on its decisions to oppose the Research Excellence Framework and fight for our jobs, terms and conditions as part of wider coalitions defending the public university.

Sian Moore, University of Leeds
Miguel Martinez Lucio, University of Manchester
Phil Taylor, University of Strathclyde
Hazel Conley, Queen Mary, University of London
Kirsten Forkert, University of East Anglia
Dr Murad Banaji, University of Portsmouth
Liam Campling, Queen Mary, University of London
Professor Andy Danford, University of West of England
Professor Ralph Darlington, University of Salford
Professor Jonathan S. Davies, De Montfort University
Des Freedman, Secretary, Goldsmiths UCU
Dr Ian Greenwood, University of Leeds
Dr Kate Hardy, University of Leeds
Colin Hendrie, University of Leeds
Dr Stuart Hodkinson, University of Leeds
Caroline Holmes, Ruskin College, Oxford
Dr Jane Holgate, University of Leeds
Mehdi Husaini, Teesside University
Kevin Jones, Goldsmiths, University of London
Dr Leena Kumarappan, London Metropolitan University
Mike Lammiman, University of Hull
Kathryn Mackay, University of Stirling
Stuart Marshall-Clarke, University of Liverpool
Professor Sonia McKay, London Metropolitan University
Jo McNeill, University of Liverpool
Dr Eleni Michalopoulou, University of Liverpool
Dr Sarah Mosedale, University of Liverpool
Dr Phoebe Moore, University of Salford
Mark O’Brien,President, University of Liverpool UCU
Dr Julie Ryan, Manchester Metropolitan University
Professor Paul Stewart, University of Strathclyde
Professor Stephanie Tailby, University of West of England
Professor Martin Upchurch, Middlesex
Mark Walkley, University of Leeds
Tracy Walsh, Ruskin College, Oxford
Professor Andrew Watterson, University of Stirling
Professor Julian Williams, The University of Manchester

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The Open letter to Sally Hunt petition to Sally Hunt, UCU General Secretary was written by Sian Moore and is in the category Unions at GoPetition.