The congress of the UCU lecturers’ union heard a storming speech from PCS civil service workers’ union general secretary Mark Serwotka. He outlined a strategy for a united fight across the public sector to break Gordon Brown’s pay freeze.
Last year’s pay campaign in higher education saw a great campaign followed by a lousy three-year deal.
Now even the third year of that deal looks insecure because of an “affordability” clause which lets some employers off the hook.
In further education (FE) we have had years of standstill pay “increases” and a series of bitter battles in which many union branches have had to fight just to get a national pay deal implemented.
The idea of fighting alongside other public sector unions appeals to many UCU members in FE. Our pay claim for this year has been met by a 2 percent offer with the prospect of a further 0.5 percent next January.
With the RPI rate of inflation running at over 4 percent, this is effectively a pay cut.
Congress passed a motion from several FE branches calling for our pay campaign to be coordinated with the other public sector unions. The motion includes support for a one-day public sector pay strike.
Delegates also voted to call a special FE sector pay conference. This will be a great opportunity to get delegates from all of the FE colleges together to plan a pay campaign to make sure that this year we fight and we win.