Call for UCU chief to quit over boycott

The Stop the Boycott campaign has called for the general secretary of the University and College Union, Sally Hunt, to resign from her TUC position after the UCU passed a string of anti-Israel resolutions at its Manchester conference last weekend.

Jeremy Newmark, joint head of the Stop the Boycott campaign, said: "Sally Hunt still holds the international portfolio on the Trades Union Congress's General Council. She cannot hold this post, which requires her to work closely with the Histadrut, while her union is working to undermine them. If she has any honour, Sally Hunt must resign her TUC portfolio immediately."

In three separate motions, UCU showed its support for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Delegates voted for a dedicated annual conference on BDS and the creation of a website and research centre to investigate "commercial, cultural and academic complicity with Israeli breaches of international law".

A boycott of the West Bank Ariel College will be investigated. Relations with Israeli trade union body, the Histadrut, are to be severed.

The leading motion, proposed by UCU executive member Tom Hickey, said any action would be carried out "within the constraints of the existing law". But the hour-long heated debate confirmed fears that campaigners are still seeking a blanket boycott on Israelis, a strategy deemed unlawful in 2008.

Ronnie Fraser, of Academic Friends of Israel, told delegates: "If you think the UCU should sever links with the Histadrut just because it is an Israeli organisation, then shame on you."

Oxford's Professor Michael Yudkin's motion to condemn the UCU's invitation to Bongani Masuku - who spoke at a conference UCU organised last year to discuss Israel boycotts - failed. Mr Masuku is fighting claims by the South African Human Rights Commission that he made antisemitic remarks and incited violence against Jews.

    Last updated: 3:07pm, June 3 2010