UCU NEC votes to support Free Movement of Labour post Brexit

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.

 

22 October Public Meeting to defend freedom of movement across Europe, post-Brexit

Public Organising meeting

Saturday 22 October 1:30pm

UCL, Darwin Building B40 LT – Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT  | Map

Speakers include: Liz Lawrence (former President of UCU), Sandy Nicoll (SOAS UNISON Branch Secretary), Rafael Sanchis (Chair of Hotel Workers Branch of Unite), Simba Lkaderi (NUS President Middlesex Students Union), Joe Cox (NUS Vice President of Middlesex Students Union)

The Tory Government is intensifying its attacks on international students, EU/EEA workers, immigrants and refugees. Over the last few days it proposed both to cut international student numbers to meet immigration targets and to force companies to disclose how many foreign workers they employ. On top of this, it decided to ban non-UK academics in advising government in debates over Brexit.

Some 3 million EU/EEA citizens who work and live in the UK are now being treated as an undesired burden by a party that wants to gamble with their future and that of millions of British people living elsewhere in Europe. The latest government’s announcements will do nothing but fuel racism, xenophobia, insecurity and racist hate crimes.

But neither international students nor immigrant workers are responsible for the state of the UK economy, and victimizing them will not benefit British workers. Nor will the £1.9m wall Theresa May is building in Calais. The wall will make the journeys of immigrants and refugees more dangerous and render them more vulnerable and exploitable.

And if the existing free movement of labour within the EEA were ended, the condition of EEA workers in the UK would worsen. Any restrictions on freedom of movement, and our right to work without discrimination based on nationality, will put increasing competitive pressure on EEA workers. This will affect all workers and weaken everybody’s rights.

We launched the Campaign to defend freedom of movement across Europe, post-Brexit in the University and College Union. But we seek to involve workers from other unions to build a wider campaign for

  • freedom of movement and opposition to points-based immigration schemes
  • up-front guarantee for existing EU/EEA citizens in the UK to stay
  • immediate removal of international students from net migration targets
  • full recognition of workers’ rights throughout EU withdrawal negotiations

Get in contact, get involved https://freemovementlabour.wordpress.com

Map

Free movement motion for UCU Branches

We ask UCU Branches to consider the following motion and to indicate whether they would like to sign it or have further discussion points they’d like to bring. We will take this to the next UCU Congress. Contact Lucia Pradella (UCU KCL), Phoebe Moore (UCU rep MDX), Sean Wallis (UCU NEC) and Carlo Morelli (UCU NEC) for further information.

[This UCU branch] notes that existing UCU policy on migration and labour markets recognises the social, cultural and economic value of migration and opposes all forms of racism and the Points-Based Immigration Scheme. This policy, however, does not explicitly refer to a commitment to defend the free movement of labour, including for all workers in higher education.

[This UCU branch] further notes that the existing free movement of labour within the European Economic Area (EEA) is threatened by the EU referendum vote to leave. If this is ended, EEA staff will be drawn under the Points-Based Immigration Scheme, meaning that they will be subject to the same continual visa restrictions, employer-sponsorship arrangements, etc., that our international colleagues face. Similar barriers will likely be placed on UK nationals living in or moving to the EEA.

[This UCU branch] believes that the end of freedom of movement of labour would represent a significant worsening of the condition of present and future EEA staff in the UK. Any restrictions on freedom of movement of labour, and our right to work without discrimination based on nationality, will put increasing competitive pressure on EEA staff, and thus affect staff as a whole and weaken our union.

[This UCU branch] therefore agrees that, while continuing to campaign against the Points-Based Immigration Scheme, we must defend existing free movement arrangements, both within and without the EEA.

[This UCU branch] resolves urgently to campaign for the following:

  • the free movement of labour and opposition to the Points-Based Immigration Scheme
  • an up-front guarantee for existing EU/EEA citizens in the UK to stay
  • protection for EU research funding and EU students
  • full recognition of workers’ rights throughout EU withdrawal negotiations

[This UCU branch] further resolves

  • to publicise the fact that this motion has been passed and encourage other UCU branches to do likewise
  • to submit this motion, when passed, to the National Executive Committee of UCU
  • to liaise with other branches regarding submitting a version of this motion to UCU Congress 2017

Guardian letter on free movement

We sent this letter to the Guardian and it was published 18/07/16

The UK-EU battle over free movement and terms of trade

David Davis, secretary of state for exiting the EU, has focused his attention on removing the rights of EU workers in the UK (EU workers may get backdated deadline to stay, 18 July).

The prime minister, Theresa May, is also interpreting the Brexit vote as a vote to end the free movement of labour within the EU. But the government has no mandate to do so. The referendum vote was a vote to leave the EU, not to end the free movement of labour.

This is true despite misleading media “debates” blaming savage welfare cuts and worsening working conditions on immigrants and refugees, thus fuelling the post-referendum fivefold peak in race hate crimes. Absent from these “debates” are key facts, such as that immigrant workers contribute far more in taxes than they draw in benefits, or that public and private industries – from factories, farming and construction to the NHS – depend on the work of immigrant workers. We recognise the huge social, cultural and economic value of migration.

These “debates” divert the attention of local working people from the real causes of their concerns: the ongoing economic crisis, widening international inequalities, war, austerity and attacks on workers’ rights and conditions.

If, as a result of UK-EU negotiations, free movement within the European Economic Area ends, then EEA workers will be drawn into the same points-based immigration scheme, subject to the same continual visa restrictions and employer-sponsorship arrangements that non-EEA workers face. Something similar will likely happen to UK nationals living in or moving to the EEA.

All this will set off further demands for restrictions on non-EU immigrants. This vicious circle will put increasing competitive pressure on local working people, and weaken workers’ collective power and international solidarity.

The trade union movement has a long history of fighting alongside and defending immigrant workers, from Grunwick in the 1970s to current campaigns against the points-based immigration scheme.

As the experience of the UK and Ireland shows, open borders work. We believe it is right and timely to campaign for the free movement of labour, both within and without the EEA, under the slogan Free Movement for All.

Dave Muritu Chair, UCU equality committee, UCU NEC, Sandwell College, Lucia Pradella King’s College London, Phoebe Moore UCU rep, law and politics, Middlesex University London, Carlo Morelli UCU NEC, University of Dundee, Rachel Cohen UCU NEC, City University of London, Chris Jones UCU NEC, president UCU Wales, Sean Wallis UCU NEC, University College London, Marion Hersh UCU NEC, University of Glasgow, Jeff Fowler UCU NEC, University of Sunderland, Bruce Heil UCU NEC, The Open University, Lesley McGorrigan UCU NEC, University of Leeds, Sue Abbott UCU NEC, Northumbria University, Amy Jowett UCU NEC, Hackney ACE, Sean Vernell UCU NEC, City and Islington College, Patricia McManus UCU NEC, University of Brighton, Margot Hill UCU NEC, Croydon College, Alan J Ryan UCU NEC, De Montfort University, Julia Charlton UCU NEC, Northumbria University, Paul Errington UCU NEC, Teesside University, Joan Harvey UCU NEC, Newcastle University, Vicky Blake UCU NEC, University of Leeds, Ariane Bogain UCU NEC, Northumbria University, Xanthe Whittaker UCU NEC, Leicester University, Mick Dawson UCU NEC, Brooklands College, Mandy Brown UCU NEC, Lambeth College

MOTION PASSED BY SEVERAL UCU BRANCHES

Motion passed by King’s College London, Middlesex, Goldsmiths, Leeds, Northampton, London Region, North West Region, London Retired Members, London Met coordinating meeting, Liverpool University jointly by UCU, UNISON and UNITE, and SOAS University of London.

Freedom of movement motion

KCL UCU notes that existing UCU policy on migration and labour markets recognises the social, cultural and economic value of migration. At the 2016 Congress the UCU committed itself to ‘campaigning with other trade unions, NUS and community groups for the overthrow of restrictive legislation which affects international students and staff and no change in the immigration status of EU residents if UK leaves EU.’

KCL UCU further notes that one of the main rights of EU residents, the free movement of labour within the European Economic Area (EEA), is now seriously threatened by the EU referendum vote to leave.

KCL UCU believes that the end of freedom of movement will represent a significant worsening of the condition of present and future EEA staff in the UK. Any restrictions to our right to work without discrimination based on nationality, in fact, will put increasing competitive pressure on EEA staff, and thus affect staff as a whole and weaken our union. This will have a detrimental effect on the educational experience and academic life, which are enriched by the contribution made by international staff and students.

KCL UCU therefore condemns in the strongest possible terms Home Secretary Amber Rudd’s proposals to restrict the entry of international students to ‘top’ universities and to introduce labour market tests aimed at reducing the numbers of international staff.

 

KCL UCU resolves urgently to campaign for:

  1. Free movement of labour and against Points-Based Immigration Schemes
  2. An up-front guarantee for the right of EU/EEA citizens in the UK to stay
  3. Full recognition of workers’ rights throughout EU withdrawal negotiations
  4. Immediate removal of international students from net migration targets and against upper limits on the numbers of international students

 

KCL UCU further resolves to

  1. Lobby our Principal to commit publicly to:
  • Guarantee that, for the indefinite future, there will be no change in the employment or student status of any current EU/EEA Member State and Candidate Country staff and students arising from any change introduced as a consequence of the Brexit negotiations
  • Guarantee that, for the indefinite future, universities will not implement any changes in the academic qualification, residential or fee conditions concerning students applying from EU member states and Norway or Switzerland, whatever the results of the Brexit negotiations
  • Demand that the UK government maintain existing rights of the free movement of labour across all 28 current EU Member States.
  1. Meet with UNISON and other trade unions within the universities to discuss the most effective ways of jointly campaigning for the right to remain for all EU workers and students living in the UK and to maintain freedom of movement of labour across the current 28 EU Member States
  2. Promote planned solidarity activities with non-EU colleagues to demand improvement of immigration support for all non-UK staff

 

KCL UCU also resolves to

  • Publicise the fact that this motion has been passed and encourage other UCU branches to do likewise
  • Submit this motion, when passed, to the UCU National Executive Committee
  • Liaise with other branches regarding submitting a version of this motion to UCU Congress 2017
  • Affiliate to the Free Movement of Labour: Campaign to defend freedom of movement across Europe, post-Brexit

 

Responding to Amber Rudd: Free Movement of Labour

07/10/16

Dear colleagues,

At tonight’s meeting (06.10.2016) of the London Met UCU Coordinating Committee we unanimously agreed to put the following motion (based on one recently passed by Goldsmith University UCU, and to be debated at other universities) to our next all member branch meetings scheduled for the last week of October (further details to follow).

London Metropolitan UCU Coordinating Committee

________________________________________

FREE MOVEMENT OF LABOUR IN HIGHER EDUCATION

London Met UCU condemns in the strongest possible terms the proposal by home secretary Amber Rudd to restrict the entry of international students to ‘top’ universities and to introduce labour market tests aimed at reducing the numbers of international staff.

UK universities depend on international students and staff not just in economic terms but in their very mission: to serve as spaces that are open to all people regardless of nationality and background. As such, the home secretary’s proposals are both nonsensical and racist.

The linking of student immigration rules to the government’s determination to further stratify higher education is especially pernicious. It is designed to maximise competition between HE providers and to blame ‘foreigners’ for the underinvestment and cuts for which they are not responsible.

These proposals come in the light of the recent vote to leave the EU that has endangered the existing free movement of labour within the European Economic Area (EEA). If this is ended, EEA staff will be drawn under the Points-Based Immigration Scheme, meaning that they will be subject to the same continual visa restrictions, employer-sponsorship arrangements, etc., that our international colleagues face. Similar barriers will likely be placed on UK nationals living in or moving to the EEA.

London Met UCU believes that ending freedom of movement of labour would represent a significant worsening of the conditions of present and future EEA staff in the UK. Any restrictions on freedom of movement of labour, and our right to work without discrimination based on nationality, will put increasing competitive pressure on EEA staff, and thus affect staff as a whole and weaken our union.

London Met UCU resolves urgently to campaign for the following:

– No upper limits on the numbers of international students who wish to come to the UK and to study at universities of their choice

– the immediate removal of international students from net migration targets

– the free movement of labour and opposition to the Points-Based Immigration Scheme

– an up-front guarantee for existing EU/EEA citizens in the UK to stay here

– protection for EU research funding and EU students

– full recognition of workers’ rights throughout EU withdrawal negotiations

London Met UCU further resolves

– to publicise the fact that this motion has been passed and encourage other UCU branches to do likewise

– to submit this motion, when passed, to the NEC of the UCU

-to liaise with other branches regarding submitting a version of this motion to UCU Congress 2017

_______________________________________

London Met UCU will also have delegates attending this weekend’s important Stand Up to Racism  (SUTR) Conference where UCU General Secretary, Sally Hunt will be speaking.

image1-1

This is a major national conference bringing together speakers, organisations and activists from anti-racist campaigns across Europe. The conference will examine the current struggle against racism in Britain and beyond such as the fight against Islamophobia and antisemitism, defending civil liberties and migrants rights and building solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in the US.

The humanitarian crisis in Europe will also be discussed with the intention of developing an action plan for activists and organisations who want to campaign for more to be done for refugees.

We encourage as many of our members to join us and attend this important conference at this critical time for all staff and students.

Please register via: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/confronting-the-rise-in-racism-stand-up-to-racism-national-conference-2016-tickets-26640628838

Goldsmiths supports motion

 

The following motion was passed unanimously at the AGM of Goldsmiths UCU earlier today. Thanks to the Free Movement of Labour Campaign for supplying the majority of the text. We’re hoping that many others pass similar motions and organise actions.

Goldsmiths UCU Branch, 06/10/16

FREE MOVEMENT OF LABOUR IN HIGHER EDUCATION

 

Goldsmiths UCU wishes to condemn in the strongest possible terms the proposal by home secretary Amber Rudd to restrict the entry of international students to ‘top’ universities and to introduce labour market tests aimed at reducing the numbers of international staff.

 

UK universities depend on international students and staff not just in economic terms but in their very mission: to serve as spaces that are open to all people regardless of nationality and background. As such, the home secretary’s proposals are both nonsensical and racist.

 

The linking of student immigration rules to the government’s determination to further stratify higher education is especially pernicious. It is designed to maximise competition between HE providers and to blame ‘foreigners’ for the underinvestment and cuts for which they are not responsible.

 

These proposals come in the light of the recent vote to leave the EU that has endangered the existing free movement of labour within the European Economic Area (EEA). If this is ended, EEA staff will be drawn under the Points-Based Immigration Scheme, meaning that they will be subject to the same continual visa restrictions, employer-sponsorship arrangements, etc., that our international colleagues face. Similar barriers will likely be placed on UK nationals living in or moving to the EEA.

 

Goldsmiths UCU believes that ending freedom of movement of labour would represent a significant worsening of the conditions of present and future EEA staff in the UK. Any restrictions on freedom of movement of labour, and our right to work without discrimination based on nationality, will put increasing competitive pressure on EEA staff, and thus affect staff as a whole and weaken our union.

 

Goldsmiths UCU resolves urgently to campaign for the following:

  • No upper limits on the numbers of international students who wish to come to the UK and to study at universities of their choice
  • the immediate removal of international students from net migration targets
  • the free movement of labour and opposition to the Points-Based Immigration Scheme
  • an up-front guarantee for existing EU/EEA citizens in the UK to stay here
  • protection for EU research funding and EU students
  • full recognition of workers’ rights throughout EU withdrawal negotiations

 

The branch further resolves

  • to publicise the fact that this motion has been passed and encourage other UCU branches to do likewise
  • to submit this motion, when passed, to the NEC of the UCU
  • to liaise with other branches regarding submitting a version of this motion to UCU Congress 2017

 

Guardian letter

Tory party restrictions on international students will damage UK and universities

Add your name

Amber Rudd’s announcement that she intends to cut international student numbers to help the Government meet immigration targets will do lasting damage to UK universities and wider society, and the UK’s international reputation. International students enrich the environment for home students, encourage cultural exchange and understanding, and make universities places where diverse experience and learning combine. They boost local economies and help create dynamic and exciting communities.

Many people will see the Conservative Party targeting international students as a return to the ‘nasty party’ of old. And Rudd is also proposing to force companies to disclose how many foreign workers they employ. Some 3 million EU/EEA citizens who work and live in the UK are being treated as an undesired burden by a party that wants to gamble with their future and that of millions of British people living elsewhere in Europe.

But neither international students nor immigrant workers are responsible for the state of the British economy, and excluding them will not benefit British workers. Nor will the £1.9m wall Theresa May is building in Calais. The wall will just make the journeys of immigrants and refugees more dangerous and expensive, and render them more vulnerable.

The University and Colleges Union has launched a campaign to defend international students and staff in our colleges. We encourage you to support this campaign, and to defend freedom of movement across Europe post-Brexit. A meeting on 22nd October at UCL will discuss how to achieve this.

Signed

Lucia Pradella (Kings College London)
Phoebe Moore (Middlesex)
Carlo Morelli (Dundee, UCU NEC)
Sean Wallis (UCL, UCU NEC)

Add your name to this statement

UCU Left conference 24th September 2016

Lucia Pradella and Phoebe Moore attended the UCU Left conference on 24/09/16 to talk about the Free Movement of Labour campaign. 

Brexit creates challenges both for the British ruling class and for the working class.
Most obviously, the existing free movement of labour within the European Economic Area (EEA) is now seriously threatened; immigration restrictions are at the centre of the Brexit agenda.

Just yesterday Schauble mocked Boris Johnson for defining a complete baloney the link between Britain’s access to the single market and eu free movement arrangements.

This is clearly a very fluid moment, and mobilisation from below is essential for having an impact on union leaders and the Brexit debate.

But both pro-remain Labour MPs like Rachel Reeves and also union leaders like Len McKluskey interpreted the Brexit vote as an anti-immigration vote, and embraced the idea of immigration restrictions from the EU.

In the UCU, the existing policy on migration recognises the social economic and cultural value of migration and opposes all forms of racism and the Points-Based Immigration Scheme.

This policy, however, does not explicitly refer to a commitment to defending the free movement of labour.

We believe however that this should be a priority for us in the ucu.

Why a priority? Because any restrictions on freedom of movement, and our right to work without discrimination based on nationality, will put increasing competitive pressure on EEA staff.

This will worsen the conditions of workers from the EU – up to the point that many Principals are now scared about losing their EU staff.

But the worsening condition of a significant component of HE staff would increase competitive pressure on staff as a whole, and weaken our union.

It will also have a detrimental effect on the educational experience and academic life in schools and campuses.

The paradox is that many employers have been quite active in supporting EU staff and students, while the UCU has been relatively slow and has not explicitly defended the current free movement arrangements.

But the TUC signed a joint statement with the Eu TUC defending freedom of movement for labour in a post-Brexit contest.

Our campaign for freedom of movement therefore aims to organise a mobilisation from below to defend existing free movement arrangements, both within and without the EEA.
We believe that there is a huge mobilisation potential within the unions and that new workers could join this campaign.

Our main priorities are:

+ campaigning for free movement of labour post-Brexit and for an up-front guarantee for existing EU/EEA citizens in the UK to stay
+ organising active solidarity with EU and non-EU colleagues to demand improvement of immigration support for all non-UK staff
+ building this active solidarity is crucial to opposing the idea that worsening working conditions depend on immigration – and not on the crisis, neoliberalism, austerity and immigration restrictions themselves

This is thus crucial for opposing increasing racism and hate crimes against immigrants and ethnic minority workers.

At local level – raise demands on Vice Chancellors  to commit publicly to:

+ permanently guarantee that there will be no change in the employment or student status of any current EU/EEA Member State and Candidate Country staff and students arising from Brexit negotiations

+ permanently guarantee that this university/college will not implement any changes in the academic qualification, residential or fee conditions concerning students applying from EU member states and Norway or Switzerland

+ campaign as a major European country to maintain free movement of labour and people across all 28 current EU Member States.

+ meet with the UCU, UNISON and other trade unions within the university/college to discuss the most effective ways of jointly campaigning for the right to remain for all EU workers and students living in the UK and to maintain Freedom of Movement of Labour across the current 28 EU Member States

+ to submit this motion, when passed, to the National Executive Committee of UCU
to liaise with other branches regarding submitting a version of this motion to UCU Congress 2017

We will have an informal meeting at the Stand up to Racism conference on the 8th of October and an open organising meeting on the 22nd of October at UCL. We will also be participating in National NUS Demo on 19 of November.

It is essential that we bring our opposition to fee increases for EU students within broader struggle against university fees. This shows that we are not just defending EU students, we are against all fee increases. If we get the university commitment not to increasing fees in one or two universities then we can strengthen the movement as a whole.

Likewise, defending current free movement arrangements within the EU is not just a EU issue. The worsening of migration arrangements within the Eu would likely trigger further worsening also for non-Eu workers. Plus, many cleaners from Latin America have used their European citizenship to enter the UK. So this is not an issue that involves only European workers – it is therefore essential that we try to link with other immigrant workers in the UK and other unions.

Written by Lucia Pradella.