A trade union has been engulfed in a major row after members called on the government to stop arming Ukraine.
Members of the University and Colleges Union (UCU), which has been holding its Congress at Glasgow’s SEC, backed a motion accusing President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of wanting the country to become an “armed, illiberal outpost of US imperialism”.
The motion, which also called on Russian troops to withdraw from Ukraine and noted Vladimir Putin’s troops had committed war crimes in the country, passed during the UCU congress on Saturday, May 27.
An amendment to tone down the motion, including deleting the comment about Zelenskyy and including a section calling for a peaceful resolution to the conflict “based on freedom and independence for Ukraine” was defeated.
In response to the vote, many outraged UCU members took to social media to express their anger at the motion.
Dr Yuliya Yurchenko, of Greenwich University, tweeted: “To colleagues compelled (like me) to just leave the union: let’s stay and fight this.
“We can’t grant red-brown tank(s) (or managers hoping to weaken the union) the satisfaction nor the upper hand. They won’t defeat us.”
Dr Anna Hájková, a historian at Warwick University, said members were considering leaving the union over the row.
She tweeted: “Many, many, many good members are leaving.
“I may leave, too, If I don’t, it is not because I have any faith in the UCU, but because the alternative – neoliberal university management – is worse.”
The union leadership also appeared to be against the motion, which was put forward by its branches in Brighton University and City and Islington College.
Dr Jo Grady (above), the general secretary of the UCU, tweeted: “I didn’t agree with the motion that passed, and I know that neither do many UCU members.”
One supporter of the movement took to social media to defend it. Tomáš Tengely-Evans, a journalist with the Socialist Worker, said: “It’s not ‘anti-Ukraine’ to oppose both Russian imperialism and US imperialism – which the motion does. Ukraine is a battleground for Russia’s and the US’s rival interests.
“It’s not ‘self-indulgent’ for unions to take a principled stance against war and imperialism.”
A union spokesperson said: “UCU is utterly opposed to Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine and wants a peaceful solution that fully respects Ukraine’s right to self-determination.”