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Keele University backs down


Resolute membership action has forced the employers at Keele University to abandon their attempt to make 38 academic staff compulsorily redundant. The interim settlement reached should enable the university to avoid compulsory redundancies. And if the management does not conduct the negotiations in the spirit which has been agreed, "greylisting" (a voluntary boycott) and the action short of a strike can be reinstated.

University and College Union general secretary Sally Hunt, said, "We are delighted to have reached a negotiated agreement with Keele University. This agreement has been reached in no small part thanks to the quite incredible support from UCU members in both further and higher education and academics both nationally and internationally... The support of the union and the wider academic community should serve as a warning to other institutions that UCU will not allow institutions to treat its staff unfairly or disregard its own standards and procedures."

• At the UCU's recent Congress, motions called for a wider debate about what is happening in the territories occupied by Israel; there were no calls for a boycott of Israeli universities. In 2006, the UCU overturned its 2005 resolution to boycott specific Israeli universities. Sally Hunt has said, "My personal view is that a boycott of Israeli academic institutions is not the best way to promote a just peace."

Instead of a boycott, we should be working to defeat Labour's policy of supporting every act by the US and Israeli states – funding and organising the ever-increasing settlements, arming and funding the illegal occupation, and opposing in practice the repression of the Palestinian people. And the best way to weaken any government is to fight for better wages and conditions.