Back in May, Britain’s University and College Union (UCU) conference decided to hold a series of discussions among members about the call by Palestinian unions for a boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions. UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt opposed the motion and immediately distanced herself from conference’s decision.
Now, a UCU press release dated yesterday reveals
the union’s ‘strategy and finance committee unanimously accepted a recommendation from UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, that the union should immediately inform branches and members that:
· A boycott call would be unlawful and cannot be implemented
· UCU members' opinions cannot be tested at local meetings
· The proposed regional tour cannot go ahead under current arrangements and is therefore suspended.
While writing this, I note that Mark Elf has already reported this over at Jews sans frontières.
The union’s legal advisors opine,
'It would be beyond the union's powers and unlawful for the union, directly or indirectly, to call for, or to implement, a boycott by the union and its members of any kind of Israeli universities and other academic institutions; and that the use of union funds directly or indirectly to further such a boycott would also be unlawful…to ensure that the union acts lawfully, meetings should not be used to ascertain the level of support for such a boycott.'
This backdown is troubling for a couple of reasons.
First of all, my suspicion is that the basis of the legal advice is the Race relations act (1976). I also suspect that the interpretation, whether of the Race relations act or whatever, relied upon the tendentious legal reasoning of such eminent luminaries as Harvard Professor of Torture, Alan M Dershowitz. It would be bad enough if the union accepted such a bogus interpretation, and I sincerely hope that UCU members will challenge this decision on the part of the bure
The other thing is that the union bure
Apart from that, it signals an unnerving proclivity on the part of the officials, widely observed among union bure
To paraphrase Anatole
(Thanks to John E Richardson of JAZ for the link to the UCU media release.)