Lecturers in the UCU union in higher education will be disappointed to hear that the Higher Education Committee (HEC) has suspended their ballot for industrial action to defend jobs.
The HEC met last Saturday of last week to discuss the ballot.
The employers at a number of universities were threatening legal action to challenge the legitimacy of the ballot – although no injunctions had been served.
The HEC was clear and unanimous that it would not suspend this or any other ballot because of legal threats by the employer.
It is unfortunate that statements made by the national union imply that the HEC backed down because of legal threats.
This is not true.
HEC members voted unanimously to suspend the ballot in the context of political and technical failings in the organisation of the ballot, which had resulted in a significant number of members not receiving ballot papers.
They agreed to re-ballot members in the autumn, early in the new term, as part of a united campaign alongside the other unions in higher education.
The suspension of the ballot is a setback. But it is clear that job cuts and attacks on workers’ pay and conditions, in education and beyond, are not going away.
These attacks will be best fought with a strong, well-organised campaign on a national level.
UCU members should use their annual conference next week to discuss how best to build such a campaign so that the union can start the new academic year fighting – and should start preparing now for the battles ahead.