Socialist Worker

Lecturers vote to join public sector pay strikes

by Sasha Callaghan, UCU president-elect
Issue No. 2097

The Strike vote by further education lecturers vote is brilliant. It reflects the fact that a lot of hard work from UCU union members has gone into the campaign. People are absolutely thrilled – we now have a two to one in favour of strike action and a seven to one vote in favour of some sort of action.

People are really excited because they feel they have a chance to make a difference.

The fact that teachers in the NUT union voted for strike action as well has encouraged people and meant that people are more optimistic.

Thursday 24 April, the day set for strike action by the UCU, NUT, PCS and other unions, will be

fantastic. We will be coming together to fight for decent pay. It will be a good start to the campaign, but we know that it will only be the beginning.

We’ll now be putting all our resources into building the picket lines, rallies and protests on the day itself. The London rally is important, but there will also be major rallies across the country.

UCU branches will be holding meetings between now and the strike day to organise for the picket lines and demonstrations.

Since we’ve been fighting back over pay, membership of the union has increased. We’ve had 1,500 new members in FE in the first quarter of this year – which is a 35 percent increase compared to 2007 and a 40 percent increase compared to 2006. We have pushed recruitment to the union alongside the pay campaign.

Lecturers are angry about all sorts of things as well as pay – workload, stress, bullying, the pay of college principals. The government has unleashed all sorts of initiatives on us and we have always risen to the challenge, but this is never recognised.

Lecturers may be very dedicated but they are demoralised by the way the government has treated them and they feel undervalued.

FE lecturers have submitted a claim for a pay rise for 2008-9 of 6 percent, or £1,500, whichever is greater. This follows a disputed pay offer made for 2007-8 of 2.55 percent – which is well below inflation.

We’ve had great support from students who understand the situation lecturers are in.

The NUS students’ union is backing our “Our Schools, Our Colleges, Our Communities” campaign which is about fighting the marketisation of education.

Lecturers feel angry and let down. Our strike will come a week before elections for the London assembly and many councils – attempts to impose a public sector pay limit will rebound on the government.

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