Catalonia Motion passed by NU UCU Committee

Newcastle University UCU branch committee notes the lengthy prison sentences handed out to nine Catalan pro-independence leaders of between 9 and 13 years for sedition. In Spanish law sedition means “rising up publicly and tumultuously” against the law and/or the authorities.
By trying the defendants for sedition rather than the more serious charge of rebellion, there is now the prospect of reopening extradition warrants for those who have been exiled including Professor Clara Ponsati of St Andrews University.
UCU has a policy towards Catalonia carried at Special Congress 18 Oct 2018 and adopted at UCU Congress 2019 which recognises the Catalan people’s right to self-determination and to call for the release and acquittal of all political prisoners.

As these trials cannot be seen in any other way than political in nature we ask our general secretary to:
a) Write to the Spanish Ambassador in London expressing our shock at the handling of a sensitive political issue in this heavy handed manner and for the immediate release of all nine political leaders
b) Convey our solidarity to the prisoners via the All Party Parliamentary Group on Catalonia at the House of Commons
c) Restate our support for Professor Ponsati and pledge our opposition to any attempt to extradite her to Spain.

More information here

Chris Bambery – Catalonia: The Biggest Civil Liberties Issue in Recent European History

Key member updates

UCU announces eight days of strikes starting this month at 60 universities
5 November 2019
Sixty UK universities* will be hit with eight days of strike action from Monday 25 November to Wednesday 4 December, UCU announced today.

Last week UCU members backed strike action in two separate legal disputes, one on pensions and one on pay and working conditions. Overall, 79% of UCU members who voted backed strike action in the ballot over changes to pensions. In the ballot on pay, equality, casualisation and workloads, 74% of members polled backed strike action.

The union said universities had to respond positively and quickly if they wanted to avoid disruption this year. The disputes centre on changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) and universities’ failure to make improvements on pay, equality, casualisation and workloads.

The overall turnout in the USS ballot was 53% and on pay and conditions it was 49%. The union dis-aggregated the ballots so branches who secured a 50% turnout can take action in this first wave. The union’s higher education committee has now set out the timetable for the action.

As well as eight strike days from 25 November to Wednesday 4 December, union members will begin ‘action short of a strike’. This involves things like working strictly to contract, not covering for absent colleagues and refusing to reschedule lectures lost to strike action.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: ‘The first wave of strikes will hit universities later this month unless the employers start talking to us seriously about how they are going to deal with rising pension costs and declining pay and conditions.

‘Any general election candidate would be over the moon with a result along the lines of what we achieved last week. Universities can be in no doubt about the strength of feeling on these issues and we will be consulting branches whose desire to strike was frustrated by anti-union laws about re-balloting.’

Last year, university campuses were brought to a standstill by unprecedented levels of strike action. UCU said it was frustrated that members had to be balloted again, but that universities’ refusal to deal with their concerns had left them with no choice.

Last month, shadow education secretary Angela Rayner called on both sides to get round the table for urgent talks. She said she fully supported UCU members fighting for fair pay and decent pensions and called on both sides to work together to find solutions to the disputes.