UCU

Outsourced and directly employed workers unite at UCL

4 December will see a mass strike at University College London, as outsourced workers in the Independent Workers’ union of Great Britain (IWGB) strike to demand direct employment and equality, alongside directly-employed workers in UCU, striking as part of the national dispute. The two unions have worked well together locally, with UCU supporting the IWGB’s campaign, including a recent demonstration and its previous strike on 19 November. This unity is a model for elsewhere, with unions organising outsourced and directly-employed workers working together to coordinate action. The ultimate aim...

UCU Strike Bulletin: Build the rank and file! (November 2019)

Click here to download this bulletin as a PDF. This was modified slightly after the climate strike - download the old one here. Build the rank and file! The election of Jo Grady as UCU General Secretary earlier this year was a big step forward for the union. The previous leadership had a record of compromising too soon in disputes and had never delivered the support for workplace organising needed to change the power balance in universities. Electing officials and NEC members committed to a more combative approach to organising is important, but it’s not sufficient, or an end in itself. In...

Labour must back UCU strike!

Above: UCU picket lines in Nottingham. At centre-right, holding the “four fights” placard, is, with supporters, including Nadia Whittome, Labour’s Nottingham East Parliamentary candidate. All Labour candidates near any of the 60 striking universities should join the pickets. Higher Education workers in the University and College Union (UCU) are striking from 25 November to 4 December, in a national dispute over workload, pay, and pensions. A striker in Cambridge spoke to Solidarity: “This was my first day on a picket as a striking worker. I’ve previously only picketed in solidarity. Although I...

Sheffield Hallam strikes on workload

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) at Sheffield Hallam University (SHU) are striking in a local dispute, for six days from 25 November, in parallel with national strikes. UCU activist Camila Bassi spoke to Solidarity about the dispute. Q: What’s the background to the local dispute at SHU? What are the issues, what are the workers’ demands? A: Our dispute is over unpaid work and stress. Specifically, changes to our academic work planning and the restructuring of our professional services have led to an unprecedented intensification of workloads and a crisis point in academic...

Students back uni strikes

Student-worker solidarity campaigns have been set up at almost every striking university, and many student unions have voted to support the strikes, including several who did not support them in 2018. Lancaster UCU said they had bigger numbers on the first day of this year’s strike than their biggest day in 2018. They also had a visit from Hong Kong students in solidarity with the democracy movement. Sussex students and UCU members held a demo after the picket, with a dragon, fire engine and speeches from Jo Grady and Caroline Lucas. Many UCU branches and student groups are co-hosting “teach...

Industrial news in brief

“Driver Only” dispute spreads The announcement by rail union RMT of a sustained programme of strikes on West Midlands Trains and South Western Railway represents a significant escalation and expansion of the union’s protracted and hard-fought war against the imposition of “Driver Only Operation”. On West Midlands Trains, guards struck on 16 November, with further strikes planned every Saturday up to 28 December. The strikes on West Midlands Trains are especially significant as this is first new Train Operating Company (TOC) to join the DOO strikes since they were spread to Arriva Rail North...

Lessons from Cambridge

Our advice to other workers, based on our experience in the 20 September climate strike, is: 1. Begin with a very low-stakes, but highly visible, action. In our case, this was simply a group photo in front of a banner during what would otherwise be most people’s lunch break, taking advantage of the 20 minute walkout that the TUC had backed. 2. Go into workplaces and ask if you can put up posters/leave leaflets. This is perhaps easier on the site we targeted as we had several university departments, a vet surgery, and a construction site all in close proximity. 3. If your union officially backs...

Unis out from 25 November

Members of the University and College Union (UCU), the national union for academic staff in the UK, are set to strike at 60 universities for eight days between 25 November and 4 December 2019. This follows a highly successful pair of strike ballots among UCU members in higher education: one on pensions, the other on pay, equality, casualisation, and workloads. The pensions strike continues the long-running dispute over proposed cuts to the United Superannuation Scheme (USS), the main pension plan in the “pre-92” universities. The pay dispute affects both the “pre-92” and “post-92” universities...

Sixty Universities out from 25 November

Members of the University and Colleges Union (UCU) will strike at 60 universities between 25 November and 4 December, over pay and conditions, pensions, and both. The dispute over the USS pension scheme that shut down many pre-92 universities in 2018 remains unresolved. While employers have backed away from entirely closing the defined benefit scheme, employee contributions have risen to 9.6% from 6.35% ten years ago and 8% when the current Career Average scheme was introduced. Jane Hutton, a statistics professor who raised concerns about the governance of USS, has been sacked from its board...

Strikes at Virgin, West Midlands, South Western Railway

Rail union RMT has called strikes on Virgin Trains, West Midlands Trains, and South Western Railway (SWR). On the latter, the union has named a calendar of strikes throughout November and December, which will see walkouts on 16, 23, and 30 November, and 7, 14, 21, and 28 December. West Midlands Trains is the latest Train Operating Company to see its workers plan industrial action over the imposition of Driver Only Operation (DOO). On Virgin Trains, train managers, a grade of customer-facing train crew, on the West Coast franchise will strike on 19 November to demand the reinstatement of an...

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