Exeter UCU have called for the resignation of Sally Hunt, the General Secretary of the UCU. This follows the Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) which was called on Friday 6th April, where members debated and voted on the offer by the USS and UUK to ballot UCU members on the proposal negotiated by the leadership of the UCU with UUK. Exeter UCU’s branch policy is to reject the deal.

A decision was reached at Friday’s EGM to put forward a vote of no confidence in UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt and her team that negotiated with the UUK. This follows mounting dissatisfaction towards the leadership for offering a ballot on the negotiations. The action taken by Exeter UCU follows the motion taken by University of Kent UCU who agreed to issue a vote of no confidence in Hunt on the 4th April.  Dr Lybeck, Exeter UCU member, expressed that “If it’s not Allister Jarvis at the UUK it’s our own union.” This calls into question the unity of the union with the leadership and the branches at odds.

 The leadership are in direct opposition to the overwhelming view of the branch delegates who urge members to reject the deal, with #Justsayno trending with academics on twitter. The Exeter UCU committee in their statement to depose Hunt said that “there is a democratic deficit within our union, reflected by the unilateral actions of the UCU leadership at national level.”

Lybeck: “[i]t’s a new era for the UCU and the leadership need to either get on board or get out of the way.”

In a response to Exeter UCU calling for Hunt’s resignation Lybeck said, “I am pleased to see the branch standing up to the national leadership which has ossified around internal faction-fighting rather than recognising the tremendous momentum we have stemming from our new membership.”

Dr Eric Lybeck called the decision to call Friday’s EGM in the first place “unfortunate,” further going on to state that academics are “dealing with lack of accountability, transparency and fair communication on all sides.”

Academics and union members have been quick to point out the flaws in the proposal put forward by Hunt. Lybeck argued that the proposal put to UCU members, which was not yet even fully negotiated by their union, was “so vague you could drive a truck through it”, whilst in a statement on the 5th April UCU Left put forward their position to reject the proposal claiming that “even the timing is vague.” They further went on to urge members that accepting the proposal was not the reason why they stood on the picket line.

 There is a desire to change the ways in which the UCU are run, with Lybeck claiming “[i]t’s a new era for the UCU and the leadership need to either get on board or get out of the way.” It remains to be seen if other regional branches will follow Exeter and Kent, but the overall mood of the academics within the Union appears to be that they feel let down by Hunt and her leadership team.

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