Socialist Worker

UCU takes perverse decision not to ballot

by Malcolm Povey, UCU executive member (pc)
Issue No. 2218

UCU union general secretary Sally Hunt and her supporters are behaving like rabbits in the headlights of the oncoming government cuts.

The Higher Education (HE) committee of the University and College Union (UCU) met on Friday of last week.

It considered how to take forward a decision taken at its sector conference earlier this summer to ballot for strike action in defence of pay and jobs this autumn.

The right wing had tabled a resolution to overturn that decision, on the basis that autumn was not a good time to strike.

They said the UCU should wait until next year—by which time, they claimed, other unions would be on strike and if not those UCU members in the University Superannuation Scheme (USS) would be on strike in defence of pensions.

An informal survey over the summer indicated a majority support for strikes over pay and overwhelming support for action over jobs.

Despite this Sally Hunt and her colleagues on the right perversely argued that this result meant the opposite—that most members did not want to strike.

The intervention of Hunt pulled waverers over to the “do nothing” argument and the meeting split exactly 50-50.

The chair of the meeting voted a second time to ensure that the vote went in the direction of doing next to nothing.

The left must now campaign in branches for a special sector conference to be called this October to force a ballot in November.

Branches should urgently pass a motion calling for this.

In the meantime pressure must be kept on the union to continue to build for the ballot.

For UCU Left statement and model motion go to

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Article information

Tue 7 Sep 2010, 17:52 BST
Issue No. 2218
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