UCU

"A union that belongs to its members"

Written for a Workers' Liberty bulletin for the UCU rank-and-file revolt national meeting on 29 April 2018 An often cited example of a rank-and-file network transforming its union for the better is that of the Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators (CORE) in the Chicago Teachers’ Union. The change in the union came to wider attention during their 2012 contract strike. Where the strength that CORE as itself, and then through the structures of the union, had built up was put to the test — and performed spectacularly. There are many lessons to be learnt from that strike: how the ballot was built for...

UCU: new network launches

Planned strikes by members of the University and College Union (UCU) in pre-1992 university, aimed to stop cuts to the University Superannuation Scheme for academic workers’ pensions, have been suspended after union members voted to accept an employers’ offer. UCU members voted by 64% to 36%, on a turnout of over 60%, to accept an offer from bosses’ organisation Universities UK which proposed to set up a joint “expert panel” to review pension reform. However, many UCU activists argued that the deal, which did not contain any firm guarantees to abandon plans to reform pensions, or any long-term...

Open University: fight the cuts

Bosses at the Open University are planning to slash up to a third of courses to save £100m a year from its £420m budget. A voluntary redundancy programme begins this week. The OU has been badly hit by the slump in part-time student numbers following the 2012 rise in tuition fees. Whereas previously most OU students had been able to pay their way through alongside full-time work, they were now faced with taking out loans, and many decided against it. Staff at the Open University have voted No Confidence in the Vice-Chancellor Peter Horrocks after he claimed its distance learning model wasn’t...

USS strike ballot: Vote No!

University and College Union members are voting on a deal that would see strikes in over sixty universities called off in return for an independent review of pension provision. Voting ends on 16 April. Fourteen days of strike action in February and March forced university bosses UUK to ditch a plan to end guaranteed pensions. But now strikers are being asked to put their trust in a process that may produce nothing better. Back in March, employers offered a transitional three-year deal — better than their starting point but still a huge cut — which was forcefully rejected with the slogan ‘No...

UUK backs down, but no deal yet

On Friday 23 March UCU members were emailed by the union with a ″proposal for resolving the dispute″ on pensions from Universities UK. The new proposal is a significant step back by the employer, and shows victory could be within reach, but does not guarantee enough for strikes to be called off just yet. The new proposal commits UUK to a re-valuation of the USS scheme for the first time. This is a significant step back for UUK. This re-valuation is to be done by a formally agreed joint expert panel, comprised of actuarial and academic experts nominated in equal numbers from both sides. This is...

NUS Conference 2018: defeat the right, fight for left-wing, militant leadership

At last year’s National Union of Students conference, NUS’s broadly leftish leadership was displaced by a new, mostly more right-wing team of officers. President Malia Bouattia, whose re-election we critically supported, lost to incumbent Shakira Martin. Under Martin NUS has moved to a much less radical, combative and dynamic stance. The NUS leadership refused to support the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts-organised national demonstration for free education; failed dismally to mobilise support for the UCU strike and displayed hostility to the wave of student solidarity actions; and...

Revolt in the degree factory

On Monday 12 March Universities UK and the University and Colleges Union (UCU) announced they had reached an ″agreement″ at ACAS in the ongoing dispute over the USS pension scheme. As details of the ″deal″ came to light UCU members across the country were at first confused as to why the UCU would have agreed such a deal, and then angry. Ten days of strikes had forced employers first into negotiations, then into making an offer. But the offer was a bad one. Pension contributions would go up to 8.7% from 8%; the accrual rate would go down to 1/85 salary a year from 1/75, and pensions would only...

Student and workers say #NoCapitulation - Support the strikes!

Student occupiers, anti cuts activists and UCU members from across the UK spoke to Workers' Liberty Bristol students occupation An occupation of Bristol University Senior Management’s offices has forced the university to concede to most of their demands. A Bristol Uni occupier writes... The strikes are over proposed changes to the USS pension scheme, in which many staff would lose up to 40% of their pension. So far there have been eight strike days at sixty-four universities, escalating over three weeks with another nineteen possible days planned. It is the first nationally co-ordinated strike...

UCU strikes force offer from UUK, but it's not good enough

University and College Union branches are furiously opposing a proposed ACAS settlement of the USS pensions strike. After ten days of strike action employers finally offered a deal of sorts. But the deal is a bad one. Pension contributions will go up to 8.7% from 8%; the accrual rate will go down to 1/85 salary a year from 1/75, and pensions will only be guaranteed on salaries up to £42k (about the third point on the main lecturer scale) instead of the current £55k (roughly the top of the senior lecturer scale). Worse, the deal is a ‘transitional’ one for three years, with a dangerous prospect...

University strikes still strong in fourth week

Strike action continues at sixty-four universities next week, with the first full week of action over the scrapping of guaranteed pensions. The strength of the strikes has already forced the employers to ACAS, where talks will continue on Monday. UCU has rightly refused to call off strike action while the talks continue, and has authorised a further fourteen days of action to hit exams and assessment after Easter if the dispute is not settled. Thousands of staff have joined UCU over the course of the dispute with every sign that feelings on the picket lines are hardening. Targeted campaigns...

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