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Out-of-the-ordinary general meeting and welcome – 7 Oct

Published: 1st September, 2019

Join us on Monday 7 October – from 4:30pm (venue: Physics Lecture Theatre A) – for an extraordinary general meeting of Leicester UCU, followed by welcome gathering.

In the middle of not one but two strike ballots – in defence of our USS pensions and for greater equality and pay rises that aren’t real-terms pay cuts – we’ll welcome UCU’s new general secretary Jo Grady. Jo – erstwhile colleague and comrade – will talk about these twin campaigns and, more generally, her vision for our union. Of course, there’ll be opportunity for Leicester UCU members to put our own questions and opinions to her.

With the arrival of University of Leicester’s new vice-chancellor, Nishan Canagarajah, imminent this EGM will also be a chance for us to talk about our university and how we want it develop over the next years and decades. Incoming VCs – like all chief executives – frequently arrive with their own visions and plans. (Prof. Canagarajah’s predecessor certainly did.) We firmly believe that, before attempting anything, the new vice-chancellor should first spend time talking with those people who actually make University of Leicester – its students and its employees… no, Prof Canagarajah should first spend time listening to those people who actually make University of Leicester. We intend to write to him on his arrival in early November, both welcoming him to Leicester and – importantly – explaining what our vision for our institution is. Our meeting on October 7 is a opportunity for members to help shape this Leicester UCU vision.

Finally, the EGM will segue into a more social gathering, an opportunity to welcome new members of the Leicester UCU members and to reconnect with one another. There will be non-alcholic drinks and – we hope – wine and samosas. Although we’re unable to organise formal childcare, children are welcome.

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Motions for debate at the EGM:

Motion 1:

(Proposer: Toby Lincoln, seconder: Helen Eborall)

Branch Position on the Global Climate Emergency

Climate change is currently one of the most pressing issues facing humanity. Global temperature is estimated to increase 3oC by 2070 based on High Emissions Scenario RCP8.5.

The United Kingdom, along with more than 170 other countries, officially signed the Paris Agreement in 2016 that sets out a global target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and a decisive call to action to mitigate dangerous climate change caused by human activity.

The UK Government declared a climate change emergency in May 2019 and passed a motion which aims to reach net zero emissions by 2050, closely followed by the Universities of Bristol and Newcastle and 96 councils so far, including Leicester City and County Councils.

There is increasing pressure on other universities to follow suit, from student groups such as People and Planet and the NUS (who have also declared) and from Extinction Rebellion (many of our staff and students are members). However, a declaration alone carries little meaning unless accompanied by a measurable action plan: 

  • Leicestershire County Council has set a 2030 carbon neutral date for its own operations, as have many universities, as well as commitments to divest from fossil fuels and other pledges.
  • DMU are also looking to declare and also to set a net zero carbon emissions target of 2030 (scopes 1 & 2).

Given the urgency of the situation we propose that this Branch adopt the following position:

  • This Branch recognises the situation with respect to climate change as representing a global emergency requiring immediate decisive action
  • This Branch calls upon the University of Leicester to declare climate change to be a global emergency and to set ambitious carbon reduction targets that are considered in all areas of University strategy and operation and to publish a comprehensive Climate Strategy and Action Plan in 2020
  • This Branch is committed to working with other groups, both on and of campus in pursuit of these aims.

Motion 2:

(Proposer: David Harvie, seconder: Helen Eborall )

This branch notes that UCU is running a professional development course in our institution on 3 October, offering members training in writing grant applications, and that an aim of UCU’s CPD for All project is ‘to increase the number of CPD courses offered by UCU’. The branch also notes that in her election manifesto of spring 2019 Jo Grady (now in-post as general secretary) suggested that UCU ‘can save money … by capping our spending on professional development activities like grant-writing workshops, and other service activities provided by the union that should be provided by employers.’

This branch agrees with this stated view of UCU’s general secretary and, in particular, the assertion (also in her manifesto) that ‘this is not where we should be funnelling our resources. Individualised career support is never a substitute for strong collective bargaining’. We believe it is a cruel irony that such ‘individualised career support’ is only made necessary overly complicated and competitive research funding regimes – which themselves are a source of increased workload and stress to many UCU members.

This branch therefore urges UCU’s general secretary to act on this manifesto pledge. We further mandate UCU to go beyond a mere ‘cap’, instead ceasing all professional development activities. Training  is of course of upmost importance, but UCU’s resources should directed to enabling members to contest collectively challenging conditions of our work that have been individualised.