Motions carried at CUCU Ordinary General Meeting 8 Feb

The following motions were carried at our Ordinary General Meeting on 8 February

Motion on the redevelopment of Ekin Road (Abbey Ward Cambridge)

CUCU notes

  1. That the City Council is proposing to redevelop the Ekin Road housing estate in the Abbey Ward in Cambridge.
  2. That the Ekin Road estate component being considered for development comprises 72 flats in six blocks, 32 houses, 10 bungalows and 8 maisonettes in one block. This is 122 dwellings in total, housing approximately 250 residents in total.
  3. That the flats are in very poor condition and many are damp.
  4. That the residents of the houses on the Ekin Road estate are in the overwhelming majority opposed to demolition (and associated compulsory purchase, where relevant) of their houses.
  5. That the residents of the flats are in the overwhelming majority in favour of the demolition of the flats so that they can be rebuilt to current environmental standards and that they can be rehoused in these flats upon their completion.
  6. These positions are supported by statistics from a recent survey conducted by the Council, available here (page 49):
  7. In March 2023 the Council presented residents with a “long list” of 7 options for the estate. This was investigated by Council and external consultants Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) to then produce a shortlist.
  8. No consultation with residents was done during this shortlisting.
  9. A shortlist of 3 options was presented to residents in September 2023: refurbish the flats, demolish 102 of the 122 dwellings and rebuild new housing, demolish all 122 dwellings and rebuild new housing.
  10. The Council and JLL have declared that the option to refurbish is “unviable”, and only a comparative option.
  11. The two available shortlist options are unacceptable to the campaign, as they demolish 12 (of 32) and 32 (ie: all) of the houses respectively.

CUCU resolves

  1. To support the campaign of the residents of Ekin Road to redevelop the flats while at the same time defending the houses from demolition.
  2. To support the campaign by encouraging UCU activists to assist in work, campaigning and canvassing on the street.
  3. To inform all City of Cambridge councillors of this motion.

Motion for Ending Age Discrimination and Forced Retirement (EJRA) at Cambridge

Cambridge UCU notes that

  • UCU supports the current legal position of there being no default retirement age
  • UCU’s guidance about discrimination, bullying and harassment emphasises that:
    ‘It is unlawful to discriminate against people with a protected characteristic: age, disability, religion and belief, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, sex and sexual orientation.’
  • UCU opposes unlawful discrimination and will help members who experience it
  • If people of different ages are not to be treated exactly the same, they should be treated fairly and consistently, ensuring that there is not more favourable treatment of an employee because of their age, unless you can objectively justify (emphasis added) the treatment as a proportionate response to a legitimate need (ACAS)
  • The EJRA (Employer Justified Retirement Age) was introduced to aspire to improve inclusivity and diversity, but only for Officers of the University
  • Objectively, those aspirations have failed, with no concrete data or statistics shared to confirm otherwise, while clear statistics show that Cambridge performed worse on gender diversity than 21 Russell Group universities without a forced retirement policy
  • The similar EJRA policy at the University of Oxford was found by the Employment Tribunal (March 2023) not to be a justified means of achieving a legitimate aim, and thus unlawful
  • A Regent House Discussion on a Topic of Concern about Forced Retirement was held in January 2023 (Reporter, 6679), with more than 50 participants, with the great majority calling for ending EJRA, including productive colleagues whose compulsory Cambridge retirement lead to them moving to work at other universities
  • 120 Cambridge professors signed a letter to the Vice-Chancellor in November 2023, emphasising their shared belief that the ‘EJRA is immoral, illegal, unfair, uneconomic, and bad employment practice’ as well as a ‘a reputational risk for Cambridge’, and calling for a vote on abolition of this unacceptable policy this academic year

Cambridge UCU believes that

  • Age discrimination is harmful, personally and communally, as is all other unlawful discrimination
  • The current inconsistency of targeting only University Officers is unjustifiable
  • The existing practice of making a request to the termly meetings of the Retirements Committee, for working beyond retirement age, yields patchy, inconsistent, and politically influenced results
  • The unintended consequences of EJRA, including earlier-age (e.g. 62) refusal of research grants and funded projects for Investigators, results in severe damage to the wider community, including for younger researchers, and undermines the stated strategic aims intended by EJRA
  • Only a complete ending of the EJRA is justifiable, and can be fairly and consistently administered
  • The abolition of the EJRA would not justify a change to the standard of tenure granted to established posts under the Schedule to Statute C nor would it justify the introduction of ‘performance-management’ of academic staff.

Cambridge UCU resolves to

  • Lobby and organise for an end to the unfair discrimination and lasting, damaging effects of EJRA
  • Defend the Schedule to Statute C and oppose any attempts to introduce the ‘performance-management’ of academic staff.

Motion on terminating the University’s collaborations with companies implicated in the bombing of Gaza

Cambridge UCU notes

  1. The ICJ ruling that Israel must take emergency measures to prevent genocidal acts in Gaza.
  2. The wholesale destruction of the higher education and health systems in Gaza, the killing of more than 25,000 Palestinians, and the risk that famine and disease will lead to the deaths of many more.
  3. UCU national policy in support of members’ right to refuse complicity in Israeli apartheid and occupation through support of boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns.
  4. Cambridge University holds research collaborations and receives funding from multiple companies directly involved in arming Israel and thus at risk of contributing to the genocide of Palestinians, including BAE Systems, Boeing, Rolls Royce and others. BAE Systems manufactures parts of the F-35 stealth fighter jet used extensively by the Israeli military in waves of airstrikes against the civilian population of Gaza. Rolls-Royce makes the “LiftSystem” fan propulsion system for the F-35 in Filton, Bristol. Boeing produces precision guided munitions used by the Israeli Air Force in Gaza.
  5. Repeated initiatives by students and staff calling on the University of Cambridge opposing institutional partnerships and research collaborations with, investment in, or the receipt of funding from companies or institutions complicit in military aggression by Israel against the Palestinian people or associated with the maintenance of occupation and apartheid. This has included open letters in 2014, 2018, 2021 and 2023 signed by hundreds of staff and students.

Cambridge UCU believes

  1. The University should work towards terminating contracts and partnerships with companies providing arms to Israel and profiting from the killing, oppression and displacement of the Palestinian people. This process should include seeking alternative sources of funding and supporting research related to violations of international law by Israel, and the defence of the rights of the Palestinian people.
  2. The University should revise processes of ethical review for research funding to include assessment of risks of complicity in violations of international humanitarian law.

Cambridge UCU resolves

  1. To work towards launching a campaign calling on the University to enact a boycott of, and divestment from, BAE Systems, Boeing and Rolls Royce in coordination with students at the University and with other UCU branches engaged in similar action against the same companies. The campaign will involve research to map the extent of University complicity and identify additional campaign targets as appropriate, develop a robust evidence base and organise actions such as open letters, protests and public events.
  2. To provide support for members exercising their right to refuse to carry out work which would risk complicity in genocide or other violations of international humanitarian law.
  3. To call on UCU nationally to provide resources and support for branches engaged in developing BDS campaigns.