Lecturers in the UCU union sent out a clear call for a united fightback against cuts.
Speaker after speaker talked about the severity of the cuts heading for higher and further education.
Delegates backed motions calling for coordinated strike action against the onslaught.
On Sunday, delegates passed a motion calling on the TUC and other unions “to ballot for a
24-hour public sector strike against post-election cuts”.
It also called for a “coordinated campaign of action with other unions, including strike action” to defend education—and backed budget day protests (see xxxxx).
Delegates passed the motion with just two votes against—giving some sense of the anger that exists among workers. The conference also voted to affiliate to the Right to Work campaign.
Delegates highlighted the many ways that cuts hit the most vulnerable people.
Lecturers backed motions condemning cuts to English for Speakers of Other Languages (Esol) provision and calling for campaigns against the casualisation of education jobs.
Importantly, they also demanded that cuts must be met with a national strategy and that individual institutions should not be left to fight alone.
In the higher education (HE) sector conference on Monday, Michael MacNeil, national head of HE, said that the government was “ideologically wedded to cutting funding”. He added that managements and the government saw a “unionised workforce as an obstacle” and trade unions as blocks “to be worked around or under”.
The sense of assault on trade unions is shared by many workers in other industries. This reflected a general anxiety about how the new Tory government would impact on education.
The UCU in higher education is currently seeking a national agreement on job security and pensions. If it does not secure it, Michael said the situation “could not be clearer: go back to your branches and prepare for action”.
Delegates passed a motion supporting a ballot for strike action if no national agreement is reached.
Mark Campbell, from London Metropolitan University, and a national executive member, said, “We have to start the ballot now so that we can have effective national strike action.
“We know that employers will issue redundancies over the summer. Now is the time to get off our knees—we have to fight back with everything we have.”