UCU

Industrial news in brief

Although the action is yet to be announced, the next round of the university and college union (UCU) dispute appears set for the second half of February. Where strike ballots exist, they are either related to action defending the USS pension scheme, or over casualisation, pay, workloads and equalities (the “four fights”), however in most universities live ballots exist for both disputes simultaneously. A further 37 branches are currently being re-balloted, which alongside the live 98, would significantly enhance the strike’s impact, which in November and December saw thousands of UCU members...

Industrial news in brief

Rail union RMT has begun re-balloting its members on South Western Railway (SWR) for further industrial action to defend the role of the guard. SWR guards concluded a month-long strike on 1 January, and are now re-balloting as the six-month mandate of their current ballot, stipulated by anti-trade union legislation, has now expired. The new ballot closes on 23 January. If it returns a majority and meets the required thresholds, SWR guards could take further action. No direct negotiations have been held between SWR and RMT since November. Elsewhere, RMT members on the Tyne and Wear Metro struck...

New university strikes from 20 February

A sectoral conference for University and College Union (UCU) members working in universities in the USS pension scheme, where workers struck in November and December, has voted for an escalation of the strike, passing a proposal to strike for two weeks from 20 February. The Higher Education Committee of the union will now ratify that proposal. That does leave a big gap between the end of the last strike and the next, but many universities have exams through January, so striking then wouldn’t have any impact on teaching. Negotiations are ongoing; the fact of a further planned strike will...

University workers strike, students occupy in solidarity

University workers strike By Ollie Moore The strikes by higher education workers in the University and College Union (UCU) around pensions, pay, and workload, running from 25 November to 4 December, have seen significant student support. A UCU striker in Cambridge sent this report of picketing at his university to Solidarity: “There was a much noisier response from the road traffic today [27 November] where the West Cambridge picket is based. Possibly a sign that locally the news that a major strike is going on has got through. “It genuinely also felt like fewer people were crossing our picket...

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...

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