The Natfhe lecturers’ union will recommend that its members boycott Israeli universities and academics who do not dissociate themselves from their government’s policies.
Members of the union, meeting for their annual conference, passed a motion that condemned Israeli “apartheid policies” in the occupied territories.
Tom Hickey, who proposed the motion, told Socialist Worker, “This is a landmark position for Natfhe.
“It’s important to note that even those who were strongly opposed to the motion made it clear that they were against Israeli policy in the Palestinian territories—the argument was over tactics.”
Hickey added that the motion would help set the tone for the new University and College Union (UCU). The Natfhe and AUT lecturers’ unions were set to merge to form UCU on Thursday of this week.
Natfhe’s final conference took place during a bitter dispute over pay. Members of the AUT and Natfhe were continuing to refuse to mark work or set exams as Socialist Worker went to press.
The higher education sector of Natfhe voted unanimously to instruct negotiators to hold firm.
Roger Kline, Natfhe head of higher education, told the conference that he was proud of the action that lecturers have taken in universities across the country.
“We have an obligation to be the guardians of education,” he said. “This is a key dispute and we have shown what we can do.
“We have to maintain the action, we have to step up the action and we have to hold the vice-chancellors to account.”
Lecturer Steve Cushion said, “We have to show them that we reject pathetic offers. Let’s start the first day of our new union as we mean to go on.”
National Union of Students (NUS) president Kat Fletcher told the conference, “NUS stands beside you every step of the way.”
Delegates also voted to pass a motion noting Respect’s success in the local elections. The motion said that Respect provided an “anti-racist, anti-fascist left alternative culture to New Labour and the BNP”.