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From The Socialist newspaper, 26 January 2022

Universities: Strike action at 68 in two disputes

UCU strikers march in London Photo: Paul Mattsson

UCU strikers march in London Photo: Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Socialist Party members in UCU

Strike action is soon to be announced at 68 universities, following reballots in the University and College Union (UCU), resulting in 12 more branches passing the 50% turnout threshold in at least one of the two separate disputes the UCU is currently battling against vicious attacks on pensions, pay and conditions.

Some of the reballoted branches were extremely close to the threshold, missing the 50% mark by just a handful of votes in some cases. These branches should have the right to appeal the results and issue new ballots if they decide to.

No strike dates have been announced, but in an email to members, UCU general secretary Jo Grady stated that the higher education committee has decided on a programme of "rolling UK-wide and regional industrial action", which will involve "strikes in different regions and devolved nations on different dates, as well as UK-wide strike dates". She also announced a marking and assessment boycott in the summer, should employers refuse to budge in the disputes.

It is the correct decision to announce further strike dates. As a minimum, there should be an escalation from the three days of UK-wide action taken last term. Coordination with other campus trade unions and students is also critical.

The UCU should look to link up any action with Unison, whose ballot result of higher education members will be known later this month. The student strike for education announced by the National Union of Students for 2 March is a big opportunity to unite students and workers around the demand for free education, and the UCU should announce strike action for this date.

A key strategic question is how to involve those branches without a legal mandate for strike action; a complication of fighting a national dispute on a disaggregated basis. Engaging the entire membership in the disputes will put more pressure on the employers to concede and build momentum for an aggregated ballot, if the current strike mandate expires without a victory.

Regional and national demonstrations around the strike action could play a part in this process, as could inviting members from striking branches to general meetings of branches not yet in the dispute.

The strategy of regional and UK-wide strikes is a new tactic for the union, yet to be tested. Given the attempts by some in the union to downplay the significance of the current strike mandates and use targetted action to step down the disputes, the left must organise at all levels to maintain the national profile of the disputes and fight for an effective strategy that builds unity and confidence of different sections of the union's membership.

The experience of the last few months has shown that determined struggle has won significant gains and victories for workers. This should give confidence to UCU members that with the correct strategy, the union can push back against the attacks and, in the process, build the forces to fight for an end to marketisation on campus which is driving these attacks.

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In The Socialist 26 January 2022:


What we think

We need a workers' alternative to big business Tories and Labour


News

Lords reject parts of anti-protest bill

News in brief

Social care providers put profit before residents' needs - nationalise care now


Cost of living

Cost of living crisis


Trade unions and the cuts

Trade unions and the fight against council cuts


Workplace news

Barts NHS workers strike back

Sheffield Just Eat strikers step up action and hold mass rally

Oaks Park School: valiant strike exposed state of schools

Education: Workload and inflation goes up, incomes fall

DWP reps demand action from PCS leadership

10,000 tube workers vote to strike - don't make workers pay for TfL funding crisis

Strike action by Carmarthenshire winter gritters wins concessions from council

Universities: Strike action at 68 in two disputes

Worksop Wincanton logistics workers begin ninth week of strike action


International news

Trade unionists in the USA fighting back


Campaigns news

Hundreds protest to save St Mary's Leisure Centre in Southampton

Wakefield TUSC - Fighting for low-paid workers and NHS

Eviction resistance on the march in Waltham Forest

This is students' chance to fight back - help build 2 March NUS walkout

Selling the Socialist


Environment

Britain's waterways choked with a 'chemical cocktail'


Readers' opinion

War in Yemen, made in Harlow, profit for rich

Somers 'slaughterhouse' Forge

UK Covid-19 mortality similar to Spanish Flu

It's my party, and I'll lie if I want to


 

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Related links:

Higher Education:

triangleWhy I'm going to Socialist Students conference

triangleHigher education disputes

triangleStaff and students unite against university bosses' attacks

triangleSupport uni workers' walk-out on pay and pensions

triangleUniversity workers vote for action in two disputes

Universities:

triangleUniversities strike - build the action and stand united to win

triangleScrap tuition fees - end university marketization

triangleStudents and unions must resist misnamed 'free speech' bill

triangleFighting sexual harassment and gender violence on campus

Strike:

triangleWorkers and students unite and fight

triangleRail workers strike in Sheffield

triangleJust Eat couriers continue action to fight pay cut

UCU:

triangleUniversity workers continue strike against bosses' attacks

triangleUniversity workers striking back

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