UCU, A Political Vacuum And Racism.
You might have supposed that University and College Union’s delegates at their recent Congress would have had a grasp of cause and effect (coming from the educational sector as they do), or at the very least, they should have had some sense of history, but apparently not.
When the UCU’s NEC brought forth a motion disregarding the EUMC’s working definition on antisemitism they seemed to think nothing would occur. That no one would respond. That people would not notice or care.
Because if they did appreciate the dialectic of politics, how their actions would cause immense offence and disquiet, then the UCU’s NEC would have known that consequences must surely follow from their actions.
If they knew that there would be a negative response, and as a result that trade unionism would be weakened and disparaged then the UCU’s NEC are culpable of bringing trade unionism into disrepute. They can’t have believed that this issue existed in a political vacuum. They knew what they were doing and how it would reap a detrimental reaction for trade unionism. The UCU’s NEC are, at the very least, guilty of endangering the continuation of trade unionism within further and higher education.
As the days and weeks pass that is what we are seeing. UCU members are leaving in disgust. UCU’s actions have been shown to be intellectually untenable and reprehensible in the extreme. Trade unionism and UCU has been brought into disrepute by UCU’s institutionalised racism.
“The Board of Deputies of British Jews has written to vice-chancellors urging them to consider derecognising the University and College Union if it “refuses to address claims of institutional racism”.
The UCU has been criticised by Jewish groups after delegates at its recent congress voted to reject a working definition of anti-Semitism produced by the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia.
The UCU motion says that the working definition “confuses criticism of Israeli government policy and actions with genuine anti-Semitism” and “is being used to silence debate about Israel and Palestine on campus”.
The motion, proposed by the UCU’s national executive committee, says the union “will make no use of the definition (eg, in educating members or dealing with internal complaints)”.
The UCU has previously attracted criticism from Jewish groups for motions proposing an academic boycott of Israel, although no such motions were raised at this year’s congress.
Vivian Wineman, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, wrote to vice-chancellors on 1 June.
“Following these developments, and in light of UCU’s history of behaviour, we now believe it to be an institutionally racist organisation,” he writes.
Mr Wineman adds that since its formation in 2006, the UCU “has been obsessed with Jews and Israel”.
The boycott debate “has poisoned the atmosphere inside UCU and led to many Jewish members feeling harassed for their beliefs and identities”, he argues.
He adds: “If UCU refuses to address claims of institutional racism, then we would ask that you reconsider whether formal union recognition…is appropriate at all”. “