Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 17/10/2018 - 10:18

Charlotte Zalens, Ollie Moore, Peggy Carter and David Pendleton

Further Education (FE) college workers are holding a national week of action from 15-19 October. The week of action over FE funding involves the FE lecturers′ union the UCU, plus other unions including Unison, Unite, GMB, NEU, NUS, TUC, and ASCL.

The week will also involve a march, rally and lobby of Parliament on Wednesday 17 October (as Solidarity went to press). FE funding has been cut by around 30% since 2009. This has resulted in fewer teaching hours, a drastic reduction in adult education courses, and a real-terms pay cut of 25% for staff — college teachers now earn £7000 less on

Worker activists meet to build solidarity

Published on: Wed, 29/08/2018 - 08:33

a trade union activist

Activists from the Independent Workers’ union of Great Britain (IWGB), United Voices of the World (UVW), UCU, Unite, RMT, Bectu, and other unions and workers’ organisations came together for the “How To Win At Work” conference on Saturday 18 August, hosted by the left-wing think tank New Economics Foundation.

The culmination of a project aimed at linking up the struggles of “precarious” workers such as cleaners, bar workers, restaurant workers, delivery couriers and others, the conference saw activists take part in workshops on the basics of workplace organising and planning workplace action.

HE pay ballot new test for UCU

Published on: Wed, 04/07/2018 - 13:17

By a Cambridge UCU Member

On 29 June, UCU confirmed that, between August and October this year, it will ballot HE members for industrial action over pay.

This follows a consultative members’ ballot on whether to accept the 2% pay rise offered by the Universities and Colleges’ Employers Association (UCEA). On a 47.7% turnout, 82% of UCU members rejected the offer and 65% said they would be prepared to take industrial action.

Additionally, a Special Higher Education Sector Conference (SHESC) was held on 21 June, following requests from at least 20 UCU HE branches to discuss the United Superannuation Scheme (USS) dispute

Officials suppress the rank-and-file at UCU Congress

Published on: Wed, 06/06/2018 - 14:51

a Workers’ Liberty UCU member

The congress of the University and College Union (UCU) on 30 May to 1 June was repeatedly shut down by officials to prevent discussion of motions criticising the General Secretary, Sally Hunt.

The 14 days of strikes this year to defend USS pensions in 65 universities, and a coordinated wave of local campaigns in further education colleges, have boosted union membership and pushed forward a new generation of activists.

But in mid-March Hunt attempted to sell members a raw deal from the employers to halt the strikes, only to be pushed back by a resounding “no” from branch delegates and a

Post-grads as workers?

Published on: Wed, 06/06/2018 - 12:01

a UCU activist

We should welcome the opportunities Labour’s mooted National Education Service (NES) presents to transform education.

One area that especially deserves attention is postgraduate and early career research. Graduate teaching assistants, hourly paid tutors, and other precarious education workers would benefit immediately from Labour’s policy commitments on workplace rights, including their commitments to repeal the 2016 Trade Union Act and to ban zero hours contracts.

Nevertheless, abolishing tuition fees and providing maintenance grants at the postgraduate level can only go so far to provide

UCU branches should keep pushing for democracy

Published on: Tue, 05/06/2018 - 13:55

Comment by a Workers' Liberty UCU member on UCU Congress can be read here.

Jo Grady, UCU activist and Lecturer in Employment Relations at the University of Sheffield, spoke to Solidarity about the USS dispute, UCU Congress and where next?

Solidarity: Where are things with USS at the moment?

In April members of UCU voted to accept the offer that was on the table. This involved keeping the arrangements we currently have for the time being and installing a Joint Expert Panel (JEP) which has equal member representation from UCU and UUK. It was not entirely clear what the remit of that panel would

Unite UCU walk out is abuse of trade union principles

Published on: Tue, 05/06/2018 - 13:51

By a Unite member

The actions of full time officials of the UCU in walking out of the union's Congress is effectively a dispute with their own members. It is unprecedented in the history of British trade unionism and an abuse of trade union principles by the Unite branch to which UCU full-time officials, including General Secretary Sally Hunt, belong.

The initial walkout was in response to a motion (B19), from the University of Sheffield branch, calling for the establishment of a democracy review within the union. This had originally been left off the order paper but when delegates voted to put it back on the

FE strikes win a pay rise

Published on: Wed, 30/05/2018 - 12:03

Peggy Carter

UCU members at Further Education (FE) colleges in Hull, Sandwell, and across London have been on strike over a variety of dates in May over pay and jobs.

As a result of the strike management at Sandwell college have offered a pay rise equating to 6.45% over three years. The deal has been endorsed by UCU, as well as by Unison. The deal also includes an increase in the minimum pay level to bring all workers onto the voluntary Living Wage, and the establishment of a joint working group to look at working practices, including staff well being.

FE colleges can set their own pay rates, though there

FE workers strike

Published on: Wed, 09/05/2018 - 14:47

Charlotte Zalens

Workers at Further Education (FE) colleges in Hull, Sandwell, and across London will strike in May.

As previously reported in Solidarity, workers at Hull Colleges Group will strike on Wednesday 9, Thursday 17, and Friday 18 May. The Hull Colleges Group plans to cut 231 full-time equivalent posts across the three campuses.

The London colleges strike is part of a ″second wave″ of action over pay and jobs in FE organised by the UCU, which had previously included colleges in Sunderland as well. Workers at Tower Hamlets College, Hackney Community College, Epping Forest, Lambeth College, Lewisham

UCU rank and file meets

Published on: Wed, 09/05/2018 - 14:42

Dan Davison

On 29 April 2018, approximately 50 Higher Education activists from across the UK met as part of a newly formed Rank and File network within the University and College Union (UCU).

UCU Rank and File emerged from the USS pension strikes, which saw a surge in activity within the union at the grassroots level. While 64% of UCU members voted to accept an offer from Universities UK (UUK), many UCU members – myself included – saw the handling of this ballot as a capitulation by the union and particularly by general secretary Sally Hunt.

The Rank and File meeting therefore had a central objective of

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