June Branch News: Alternative Open Day, AGM and EU referendum

Can you spare the time to help with generating ideas for our campaigns? Come to our Action Group on Wednesday 13 July, 1pm, venue tbc!

June Branch News

UCU responds to the EU referendum, our Alternative Open Day entertains prospective students and embarrasses the university and we round-up the year and confirm committee places at our AGM.

In response to last week’s EU referendum result, Sally Hunt wrote to all members to set out what the union will be doing in reaction to the vote, particularly with regards government policy and the impact on a highly international workforce and student body. She also reiterated that “universities and colleges have a vital role to play in fighting racism and intolerance and in continuing to promote the benefits of education to both the individual and society as a whole”. UCU’s National Executive Committee also made a statement, which you can read here.

In Sheffield, we urge members to remember that there are arguments for and against leaving the EU, on the left as well as the right, and that it is important to be able to agree to disagree on some of the points in order to decide how to move forward constructively. We ask members to be aware that over-enthusiastic promotion of one view can feel intimidatory and even abusive to those who hold a different view. The Sheffield UCU committee are discussing whether to hold an Extraordinary General Meeting on how to deal with the impact of the vote on Higher Education, and whether it has an effect on our campaigns.

Our Alternative Open Day on the locally-chosen strike on 23 June was a big success, with prospective students welcomed to Sheffield with friendly faces, leaflets explaining why we’re making a fuss and a series of soap-box talks. We found that students and parents were very happy to chat to us and listen to what we were saying, and think that our message was well received. We got good media coverage from, among others, Look North, Calendar, BBC Radio Sheffield and Forge Media. We hope that the university is listening to its disaffected staff, and realizing it needs to make concessions. See our Twitter feed to get an idea of what went on.

We finished the academic year with a well attended Annual General Meeting on 8 June. In addition to a summary of the year from our Branch President, the branch heard a report from the National Congress and elected committee members for the coming year. You can find the minutes for the meeting on our website.

Finally, with the summer months now here, there is likely to be a lull in activity on the pay campaign. During this time it is important to keep working to your nominal 35-hour week contract, and to take as much of your annual leave as you can. Low-paid members in UNISON and Unite are both moving towards action over pay and will need our support when they are ready to take action.

Sheffield UCU Committee