Despite active LUSU policy expressing solidarity with UCU members, who are on strike for 14 days over a four week period, LUSU has decided to host its election hustings on a strike day.
The LUSU sabbatical officer elections are currently ongoing, nominations having closed on 20th February. The sabbatical officer hustings are to take place on 2nd March, during the UCU strike. The decision runs counter to a motion passed by hundreds of students at the AGM in October to 'fully back industrial action taken by Lancaster University staff'.
The motion has been followed in a broad sense, and sabbatical officers have attended the picket line during both sets of strike action. Education sabb Bee Morgan has also echoed some of UCU's concerns in her new policy on student growth.
The decision to put hustings on a strike day means that LUSU staff (who are supposed to carry out the political decisions of the union) as well as any existing LUSU officers running for re-election will be scabbing and breaking the policy by attending and organising the election hustings.
The most egregious effect of this decision will be to exclude an important and frequently under-represented segment of LUSU membership: postgraduate students who are UCU members and on strike. Striking students who cannot cross the picket line will be unable to attend or ask questions at the hustings. If they watch the live stream or recording, they will be crossing the digital picket line. The exclusion of postgraduate students who are UCU members was highlighted in the AGM when Ms Morgan proposed the original motion on industrial action. In its original form it was very anti-UCU.
This is to say nothing of the impact on media reporting of the hustings. The staff-run unofficial publication subtext produces famous LUSU hustings reports, but will be severely handicapped in doing so this year if the hustings are on a strike day.
The decision comes as Lancaster University's 'Big Conversation' for staff on the climate emergency has also been scheduled for a strike day. Spineless understands this scheduling conflict has been raised with University management who have ignored concerns.
Rather than flouting LUSU policy, staff and officers who should know better should rearrange the hustings to a non-strike day so that postgraduate students and LUSU members who are respecting LUSU policy can attend.