Actions in support of Palestine

Tomorrow and Friday, the 9th and 10th of November, our members will be supporting the national student walk out called in support of the Palestinian people. We’ll gather outside the main entrance to our Penrhyn Road campus at 12 midday both days.

Next week, we are hosting an open online event, with speakers from BRICUP (British Committee for the Universities of Palestine) and Richmond & Kingston PSC (Palestine Solidarity Campaign). Following those public talks we will then go straight into our regular branch meeting, which will include discussion of the UCU National leadership elections 2024, and a KU UCU local campaign on London Weighting Allowance.

On our usual zoom room, link in our link tree and in the flyer above. See you there!

KU UCU Branch statement and motion on the situation in Palestine and Israel – October 2023

Kingston UCU affirms its unequivocal solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle for liberation. We also want to express our sadness and dismay at the recent violence in Palestine and Israel, and we deplore all loss of life. We understand that many in our community will be affected by these events and we extend our support to all of them, especially to those students and colleagues who may have lost loved ones or whose loved ones are under direct threat of attack.

This branch supports the rights of students and staff to express their solidarity with the people of Palestine at a time when the freedom to do so is in danger of being stifled by higher education institutions and by the British government. We also seek to reaffirm the national policy of the University and College Union to protect students and staff who may themselves come under attack for supporting the cause of the Palestinian people. We acknowledge and support the Open Letter of the Birzeit Union of Teachers and Employees, and we stand in solidarity with academics and teaching professionals in Palestine currently under threat of individual or collective harm.

We recognise that the British government’s military and political support for Israel’s discriminatory and colonial government serves to reinforce the bigoted conditions from which violence and injustice emerge. We support an end to the British government’s provision of arms in any form to Israel’s discriminatory and colonial government, and we want the withdrawal of Royal Naval ships deployed to support an Israeli offensive against Gaza and surrounding areas. We further support a ceasefire in the region, and the immediate implementation of humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people. We encourage our members to donate towards this aid, either through Medical Aid for Palestinians or Medecins sans Frontieres.

This branch notes:

1. UCU Congress 2021 passed a resolution condemning the Israeli state’s apartheid and colonial settler policies against the Palestinian people, including siege and bombardment of Gaza, seizure of Palestinian land, and policies and actions encouraging racist violence and ethnic cleansing.
2. UCU Congress has repeatedly affirmed support for the academic boycott of Israeli institutions.
3. A recent report by BRISMES (British Society for Middle Eastern Studies) documented dozens of cases where pro-Palestinian voices have been silenced or stifled as a result of unfounded accusations of antisemitism.
4. The British Home Secretary has told Chief Constables that “waving a Palestinian flag” and chanting “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” may be a criminal offence “in certain contexts”.

This branch believes:

1. That Israel’s apartheid system must be dismantled to enable democratic citizenship and equity for all.
2. That the Palestinian people have the internationally recognised right to resist occupation.

This branch resolves:

1. To support local and national protests in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
2. To support campaigns against attempts by the British government to restrict rights to free expression and protest in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
3. To implement UCU national policy in support of BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions), and to seek establishment of a joint University-UCU anti-apartheid committee to:
a) progress disinvestment talks with management
b) protect the freedom of staff and students to express solidarity with the
Palestinian people without fear of unfounded accusations of anti-Semitism and
support for terrorism.
4. To support the freedom of staff and students to comment on Palestine on social media and in academic work without fear of personal or professional sanctions.
5. To back our members in fundraising or campaigning efforts, on the University campus or in the surrounding area, in solidarity with the people of Palestine.
6. To invite speakers to our meetings who will brief us on the background to the current crisis and how we may continue to act in solidarity as a branch.

UCU members vote to extend mandate for industrial action in reballot

UCU once again smashed the Tory anti-union thresholds and delivered a resounding YES vote in the re-ballot in the UCU Rising dispute over pay and conditions, and in the dispute over USS pensions. Turnout nationally was 56.41%. Thanks to everyone at Kingston who helped campaign to Get the Vote Out.

The results for UCU’s pay and conditions reballot were:

Are you prepared to take industrial action consisting of strike action?

Yes: 85.65%

No: 14.35%

Are you prepared to take industrial action consisting of action short of strike action?

Yes: 89.92%

No: 10.08%

See the full results for both disputes here

Join the Kingston UCU Branch Committee 

At each Annual General Meeting (AGM) Kingston members elect the new branch committee. After the year we’ve had and the course and job cuts being proposed by management and threatened by government, we need a stronger than ever branch. 

You can run for any position, but many are currently vacant. Roles don’t have to be done by one person, they can be shared. We also welcome suggestions for new roles (other branches have a Casework Coordinator, Learning Rep, Student Liaison, Pensions Rep, etc.) Nominations are welcome from all members, experience notwithstanding, and members who identify as Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic or Global Majority are particularly encouraged to stand. 

All branch officers have ‘facility’ time attached – this is time we have negotiated with Kingston University’s HR department to allow us to conduct union activities like casework and attending negotiating meetings with university managers.  In reality, all officers give up more of their time to union work than they receive in facility time – and of course all the work of those without facility time is voluntary.  You will not be expected to do more than you are able or have time to do. 

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Update to KU UCU members on Coronavirus & Open Letter to VC (please sign)

In response to the rapidly unfolding Covid19 crisis, Kingston UCU have been urging senior management to act more quickly and decisively to enable home working, cancel face-to-face teaching and keep staff regularly updated.  Our Health & Safety rep has raised concerns over the depletion of hygiene supplies on campus necessary to protect staff, students and the community.

We have insisted that the health and safety of staff and students, particularly those in high-risk groups or caring for those in high-risk groups, must be safeguarded in line with the university’s legal responsibilities. Kingston has suspended face-to-face teaching as of 17th March, but we have requested an emergency JNCC meeting between management, HR and the recognised trade unions, to discuss our ongoing concerns.

These include but are not restricted to,

  • Hourly-paid and guest lecturers being paid even if they can’t deliver scheduled teaching remotely, as well as paid for the additional workload of designing and delivering content and assessment online.
  • The safeguarding of staff working from home, ensuring that they are not expected to share personal email addresses, phone numbers, Skype, Facetime or similar details, that time is given to develop online content and workloads not increased.
  • That homeworking arrangements in this extraordinary situation are temporary and no lasting changes to terms and conditions of employment are set in train as a consequence of staff working flexibly and dedicatedly to support students at this time.

Above all, we have major concerns about the wellbeing and security of frontline staff who are expected to work ‘as usual’ until Sunday 22nd, with a phased reduction ‘considered’ after that date. The safety of administrative, security, facilities management, cleaning, catering, technical, student support and library staff must be prioritised just as much as academic staff.

To this end we are asking Kingston UCU members and all Kingston academic staff to sign this Open Letter to the Vice-Chancellor: Covid-19 Open Letter from Kingston academic staff in support of non-academic colleagues

We hope members and all KU staff are looking after themselves. Please keep in contact with us.