Socialist Worker

Build on momentum of successful college strikes

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2247

The lecturers’ UCU union will meet this week following recent strikes of more than 100,000 lecturers to defend jobs, pay and pensions.

The further and higher education committees will meet on Friday to debate the next steps.

Some in the UCU’s leadership want to focus mainly on pensions. They may argue to call a strike only of lecturers in the older universities who are in the USS pensions scheme.

This would mean that those in universities where the ballot on USS was lost would not be part of the action.

It wouldn’t involve lecturers in newer universities and further education colleges, who are in the TPS pension scheme.

And it would leave the questions of job protection, the imposition of a pay cut, the gender pay gap and casualisation in the air.

Last month’s strike on 24 March united lecturers in colleges and universities up across Britain.

This was one of the best things about it. Lecturers reported that they felt more confident to strike because they weren’t going it alone.

In many places, picket lines were bigger than during previous strikes. Lots of people joined the UCU on the picket lines so that they could take part.

And the fact that the strike was about saving jobs, as well as pay and pensions, meant that strikers won lots of support from students.

The best way to build on this would be for the union to call out all members to fight all the attacks they are facing.

On 30 June an even bigger strike could hit Britain—up to one million workers across several unions could strike together.

There’s no question that the UCU must be part of this strike too.

A united strike bringing together different groups of workers would send a clear message to the government that workers will fight the cuts. It would boost workers everywhere who want to fight.

And it would make the argument for an even bigger strike later in the year, and a general strike, easier to win.

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Tue 12 Apr 2011, 18:33 BST
Issue No. 2247
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