Socialist Worker

Building resistance in the colleges

by Tom Hickey, UCU national executive committee (pc)
Issue No. 2248

Redundancies resulting from government cuts are everywhere in higher and further education.

At London Metropolitan University proposals threaten the closure of

two-thirds of degree courses. Across the country, Section 188 sacking notices are showering like confetti.

The fight for jobs is now the biggest battle for the UCU lecturers’ union.

Attacks on pay mean a

0.4 percent rise in higher education and a 0.2 percent rise in further education.

And employers aim to shift pensions from a final salary to a career average scheme, to use the CPI measure of inflation rather than RPI and to increase employee contributions by

50 percent.

The move to a career average scheme particularly affects women, minority groups and younger tutors. As a union committed to equality, the UCU must not compromise on the scheme—which allows those who have taken career breaks to catch up.


Jobs, pensions and the defence of education need a national focus in the build-up to a million-strong strike with other unions in late June.

With successful ballot results for action, the success of strikes in the pre-1992 institutions over pensions, and the first cross-sectoral strike in the union’s history on 24 March, the question for the UCU is how to carry the disputes forward.

Last Friday, the union’s FE committee agreed a “day to defend our pensions” and a day of action on jobs in early June with lunchtime protests to support those colleges coordinating strikes.

The HE committee agreed to support action with other public sector unions on pensions in June, and rallies and lobbies in May, and further action in defence of the USS scheme in pre-1992s.

The government and employers have an integrated strategy for commercialisation and privatisation.

The UCU needs its own strategy of resistance.

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Article information

Tue 19 Apr 2011, 17:53 BST
Issue No. 2248
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