University Gazette, 28 January 2010: University
CONGREGATION 19 January
Reply to Question
J.W.H. SCHNUPP, Fellow of St Peter's College, and BARONESS (RUTH) DEECH, Honorary Fellow of St Anne's College, asked Council the following question, the following reply to which was read by THE PRO-VICE-CHANCELLOR (PERSONNEL AND EQUALITY) on behalf of Council:
Given that the University and College Union (UCU) is the only trade union that is recognised by the University for the representation of its academic and academic-related staff, but given that in 2007, 2008 and 2009 annual meetings of the UCU's National Congress (designated by the union's Rules as its supreme policy-making body) all passed Motions which called on members of the UCU to discriminate against Israeli academics, what steps will Council take to ensure that the great many members of the University's academic and academic-related staff who wish to be represented by a trade union that abides by the law of the land, and respects the norms of international scholarship and the University's Equal Opportunities policy, can find suitable trade union representation?
Council notes the concerns that have arisen in connection with the decisions of the UCU's National Congress, and understands that there are strongly held views on this subject. Council's Personnel Committee has considered the question asked by members of Congregation, and has requested statements from the national UCU and from the Oxford UCU Branch in this connection: with their permission, responses from Ms Sally Hunt and from Mr Roger Undy are reproduced at www.admin.ox.ac.uk/council/ucu_hunt.pdf and www.admin.ox.ac.uk/council/ucu_undy.pdf.
On behalf of the University, Council affirms its policy of maintaining open communications and professional links with universities everywhere in order best to support the upholding of the principle of academic freedom; affirms its commitment to freedom of speech, as set out in the revised policy on this which took effect from 1 October 2009 ( www.admin.ox.ac.uk/councilsec/gov/fos.shtml); and in particular affirms its commitment to the range of its equality and diversity policies (www.admin.ox.ac.uk/eop/policy/).
It is not for Council to try to ensure that the trade unions which are available for the University's staff to join are regarded as suitable by all members of Congregation.
Council does not at present believe that it is demonstrably true that actions that are unlawful or contrary to the University's equality and diversity or other policies have been taken by the UCU or its officers or its members at Oxford—indeed Council understands that the Oxford UCU has been prominent in opposing or trying to amend a number of motions to the UCU's National Congress.
Council does not, at present, believe that it would be appropriate to reconsider the University's recognition of the Oxford UCU for purposes of consultation and representation, but it has agreed that it would ask the Personnel Committee to do so should the union or its officers seek to implement the decisions of the UCU's National Congress in ways that are unlawful or contrary to the University's policies.
For the avoidance of doubt, Council also confirms that should individual employees of the University take actions in relation to the decisions of the UCU's National Congress or otherwise that are unlawful or contrary to the University's policies, appropriate disciplinary action will be taken.
J.W.H. SCHNUPP asked Council the following supplementary question in response to Council's reply:
Baroness Deech and I are grateful for Council's reply. We should like to ask the following supplementary question to elucidate it.
In the light of the fact that the 2009 Annual Congress of the UCU passed a motion affirming support for a campaign of boycott and sanctions against Israelis, in defiance of advice from UCU's own Leading Counsel that this would be unlawful, and given that last month the UCU held an international meeting to discuss boycott and sanctions against Israelis to which it invited speakers including Bongani Masuku from South Africa, whose remarks have been publicly condemned as hate speech by the South African Human Rights Commission, can we assume that Council will now request the Personnel Committee to consider whether such actions of the UCU are compatible with the University's policies against racism, in accordance with the penultimate paragraph of the reply to our original question?
¶ This supplementary question will be considered by Council at its next meeting on 15 February and a reply published in the Gazette shortly after that date.
COUNCIL OF THE UNIVERSITY
Register of Congregation
Mr Vice-Chancellor reports that the following names have been added to the Register of Congregation:
Bartolini, R., Faculty of Physics
Chong, V., Faculty of Clinical Medicine
Da Costa, A.J., Keble
Howard, D.J., Kellogg
Maciel, A.C., St Hilda's
Robertson, D.A., St Catherine's
Schenke, G., Faculty of Oriental Studies
Trigueros, S., Department of Physics
PLANNING AND RESOURCE ALLOCATION COMMITTEE
For changes in regulations on financial matters, to come into effect on 12 February, see 'Examinations and Boards' below.