Tuesday 30 June 2009

UCU does something right

Credit where it's due: the Universities and Colleges Union seems to be doing the right thing (for a change) with regard to the situation in Iran.

On Saturday UCU general secretary Sally Hunt represented the union at a protest outside the Iranian embassy, as part of the Justice for Iranian Workers campaign.

The UCU has also condemned the Iranian government's arrest of 70 university professors, as part of the crackdown on opposition protestors.

Here's a video about the workers' rights campaign from the International Transport Workers' Federation (ignore the misleading date at the top):


bob said...

Gosh, it's not often these days that I can be glad about something my union's leadership is doing!

bob said...

Meanwhile, here's what the UCU Activists List got up to.

Martin said...

Which is the real UCU, I wonder, and how long should we give them the benefit of the doubt? Since Jon Pike resigned, my membership has been hanging by a thread, but we can't let the SWP clique presume to speak for us, can we...?

Eve Garrard said...

It's very hard to decide which is the real UCU - I presume that most of the membership doesn't agree with the agenda of the SWP-dominated leadership, since the delegates at Congress woudn't allow the boycott issue to go to a vote of the membership. No doubt this was because they believed that the membership would have resoundingly rejected it, and the evidence suggests that that belief is correct. On the other hand, the membership is largely silent, and it's the activists who make the policies. Which is more real? It's the policies that have the impact.

bob said...

I have the same dilemma. To me, the real rank and file membership is aligned with Jon Pike and with the exec's statement on Iran, while the activists are more or less represented by the activists list (but even then the activists list is going to be skewed towards the sorts of obsessives who get into those sorts of things, while people more concerned about jobs, conditions and so on are probably too busy fighting in the branches.

I think there are two compounding problems. First, as Eve says, the lay membership is silent, and on the specific issue of Iz/Pal, which has such an iconic role on the left, the liberal urge to defer to anyone who is "doing something" allows the fanatics to get away with it.

And second, the fanatics on international issues are often also among the most hard-working, militant hacks at a local level. I'm in an odd situation at the moment, for example, seeing people from the SWP who I have fought on the Iz/Pal issue, doing an excellent job defending my post in a difficult period. The ordinary membership defers to the activists sometimes simply because they are activists, and they seem to get the job done. (Of course, if we entered into another disastrous round of industrial action in this difficult time, there might be a backlash.)