UCU NEC on 25th November voted overwhelmingly for the motion devised by the Campaign for the Free Movement of Labour post Brexit to support and maintain the existing rights to free movement of labour of EU residents in the UK and EU member states. The motion was proposed by Carlo Morelli, a member of the campaign, NEC member and UCU Left member.
The denial of workers’ rights in the UK has become a major concern amongst UCU members in universities and colleges since the EU referendum. UCU has also altered its legal support scheme to include supporting the provision of immigration advice to members.
While some trade union leaders pander to the growing scapegoating of migrants and asylum seekers, the UCU rejects that immigration is a ‘problem’ ‘to be controlled’. Instead we argue that immigration is a positive to society and a strength to our trade unions. Immigrant workers have been a major source of growth in trade unionism and the fight for all our rights in the past and today.
An amendment to call on Vice Chancellors and Principals to join the UCU campaign rather than give guarantees that they would not implement any changes in employment or student status for EU workers and students was unfortunately passed by 24:23 votes. Our employers have the power to refuse to implement government changes and we should demand they do so. Allowing them to wriggle out of their responsibilities by claiming there is nothing they can do would be a mistake. Several UCU branches have already started to put pressures on local managers to ensure this. If more branches join them, we will have more chances of getting the complete version of the motion passed at the 2017 Congress (Motion).
It is therefore very important the decision of UCU is taken into branches and promoted widely. The motion called for UCU to publicise this decision and to encourage UCU branches to pass similar motions.
We now have to ensure that an active campaign is created in all our universities and colleges, and affiliation to the Freedom of Movement Campaign is brought to Congress in 2017. We should also link up with other migrant workers’ campaigns such as the ‘One Day Without Us’ which has called for a one-day strike on 20th February (Facebook Event)
The freedom of movement motion was passed by a number of UCU branches across the country: Goldsmiths, King’s College London, University of Leeds, Liverpool University jointly by UCU, UNISON and UNITE, London Met coordinating meeting, London Region, London Retired Members, Middlesex, Northampton, Dundee, North West Region, and SOAS University of London.