Our values

Stop Inequality Sign at University of Leeds, 26 February 2020 by Alarichall. Wikimedia Commons.
Our core values

1. We are for equality in all its forms, but especially:

  • We unequivocally support trans people, whose lives and rights are not up for debate. We support all LGBTQIA+ people in their pursuit of respect, visibility, and dignity in workplaces free from discrimination and prejudice.
  • We are anti-colonial and anti-racist and are committed to the decolonisation of educational structures and curricula.
  • We oppose the hostile environment, particularly its pernicious effects on further and higher education, and the ways in which it degrades working and learning conditions for us all.
  • We support democratic and non-hierarchical decision-making. We are committed to advancing democratic and decentralised governance in post-16 education.

2. We are for transparency: We are committed to transparent decision-making both in UCU, and as an organised group of members. We favour the public release of voting records and minutes from all core union committees. We do not subscribe to any other internal union slates or parties.

3. Education is a public good: We believe further and higher education should be free and equally accessible to all. We oppose the current fees, funding, and neoliberal management regimes shaping education, all of which have done serious damage to both student wellbeing and learning conditions, and to staff wellbeing and working conditions. We fight for secure jobs, humane workloads, and the end of gender and race pay gaps in our sector. We also fight for the future of research and education as a public good, a collective endeavour dedicated to the pursuit of mutual understanding and common flourishing. We believe the growing prevalence of precarious labour conditions in the sector is inhumane and that employers exploit a ‘buyer’s market’ in academic labour, relying on a frayed sense of goodwill and the norms of academic culture to produce teaching and research outputs which they then market, for free.

On our union

1. We strike to win: We believe that the collective withdrawal of our labour is our strongest weapon, but for it to be effective it must be wielded alongside other tools as part of a coherent strategy. We want to build up to strong, concerted, justified, and publicly prominent strike action when that action is necessary. We want to work towards favourable coverage of collective actions in public discourse, in no small part by setting clear and achievable goals for strike action, and by communicating the importance of those goals concisely.

2. A union of education professionals: UCU members are professionals. Our expertise, training, experience, and commitment to education merit respect and autonomy, not surveillance and micromanagement. We want to see details and we think union membership does too: of employer workload plans and models, of equality initiatives, of union policy and rule-making, and of pension fund decisions. We think our membership is well qualified to productively critique the rules and norms of our sector.

3. We want to strengthen branch democracy: We believe branches are at their best when they work to cultivate an active and engaged membership, to which decisions and leaders are regularly held accountable. Branches should strive for inclusivity among those who hold leadership roles. Across the UK, UCU should find ways to support and develop local branch democracy, and to empower members—especially those from marginalised backgrounds—to come forward and become leaders in their workplaces. We call for rules on term limits for branch positions when a representative is consecutively re-elected unopposed and for localised ‘branch pairings’ to promote practical solidarity in areas with multiple institutions.

4. We want an inclusive unionism: Our level of membership across the sector is critical to our ability to bargain for better conditions, but only by engaging our members will we truly succeed. We are in favour of additional tiers of union subscription, organised progressively according to the security of contract and the UK-wide pay scale, in order to make union membership fairer and more accessible to precarious workers. Activists, elected representatives, and union employees can only be effective when they have the mass support of an empowered and politicised membership.

5. We believe in expansive solidarity: Unions should not only defend member’s livelihoods and futures; our struggles are connected to others. We seek to cultivate material solidarity with other unions, both on campus and off; with student organisations; with sympathetic professional organisations; with community groups, and with wider social movements.

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