Members of the UCU union in higher education have voted to reject proposed changes to national negotiating structures. Some 61 percent voted no and 39 percent voted yes on a turnout of 27 percent.
The rejected proposals would have meant a major restriction on the ability of UCU members to take industrial action.
The proposals would also have cemented 'single-table bargaining' within universities, meaning employers would bargain simultaneously with representatives from all the different unions.
Employers claim that accepting the proposals would have guaranteed national bargaining for the next three years.
But the restriction on union members to take industrial action would have made it very difficult for UCU to bargain effectively.
Left wing activists in the union argued for a no vote in the ballot on that basis – and also pledged to fight any future attack on national bargaining.
Sasha Callaghan, UCU's president elect, told Socialist Worker, 'There is no mood among UCU members to move away from national bargaining.
'People voted no in the ballot because as trade unionists it would be very difficult to sign up to something which included any restriction on our right to take action.
'This isn't about elitism or not wanting to work with other trade unions. I hope that we will now have a higher education sector conference where we can discuss how to move forward and protect national bargaining.'
Sally Hunt, UCU's general secretary, said, 'It's clear that while our members remain committed to national bargaining, they have major concerns about the restrictions placed upon UCU's ability to take industrial action.'