Lecturers in higher education (HE) met for a special sector union conference on Thursday of last week. They voted overwhelmingly for a co-ordinated strike ballot across all HE institutions to defend jobs.
UCU lecturers’ union members in further education (FE) have voted for a similar ballot across colleges.
This is an important step forward. Every week brings more news of job cuts and course closures and action on a national scale is the best way to fight them.
The UCU union should waste no time in organising the ballots and mobilise the growing mood to fight among lecturers.
Workers at Leeds University will strike on Thursday 25 February, Tuesday 2 March and Thursday 4 March against plans to cut 10 percent from the university’s budget and impose compulsory redundancies.
Lecturers voted unanimously for the plan in a meeting on Wednesday of last week.
Over 63 percent voted for strikes in a ballot that won the highest ever turnout for a ballot at the university – of 66 percent.
The ballot reflects the bitter anger that exists in universities and colleges. More and more workers are voting for strike ballots.
Lecturers at King’s College London voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday of last week for a strike ballot to save jobs.
The vote took place at a UCU union meeting of around 150 workers.
Management says it wants to cut 10 percent from the university’s budget.
“They are pushing cuts school by school,” said Jim Wolfreys, UCU president at King’s. “In Arts and Humanities they want to make 22 staff redundant.
They’ve chosen 11 and everyone else has to reapply for their own jobs so they can choose the rest.
“It’s created massive insecurity and anger.”
King’s management claims to be in a period of consultation over job cuts. But it has already sacked people.
It also wants to close the Palaeography department [study of ancient writing] and sack its chair, David Ganz.
“Thousands of people have joined a campaign to save the Palaeography department on Facebook,” said Jim. “The principal has been getting protest messages from around the world.”
Lecturers hope to be balloting in March.
A broad campaign against cuts, involving workers and students, is growing at King’s.
The Take Back Education teach-in on 27 February, organised by the UCU, the No Cuts @ King’s campaign and the London Education Activists Network, will be an important event in building the resistance.
Lecturers are also threatening to ballot for action at the University of Westminster and University College London. And UCU members at the College of North East London (Conel) voted unanimously for a ballot for strikes on Friday of last week.
Workers and students must rush solidarity to the places that are fighting now – and push for more action.
lElections are taking place for national officer and national executive positions in the UCU. Socialist Worker is backing UCU Left candidates. The ballot ends on 5 March.
For a full list go to » www.uculeft.devisland.net
The UCU has called a demonstration to defend jobs and education in London on 20 March.