UCU union members face battles over pensions, pay, jobs and privatisation.
Delegates from the old universities are set to meet on 31 January to discuss the future of their campaign against pension changes imposed last year.
Those changes are far worse than the government’s offer to other teachers before Christmas. The action short of a strike needs to be stepped up, and combined with strikes.
UCU branch meetings at the start of term need to debate and mandate their delegates to support escalation. The UCU Left will be circulating a briefing.
Also in January, the national executive meets to consider the government’s Teachers’ Pension Scheme offer. The government made no concessions on the key issues. It merely redistributed the burden of the pension cuts and contribution increases.
The offer is likely to be rejected. We will then need plans, in conjunction with other teacher unions, for escalating strikes.
UCU Left has circulated analyses of the offer in relation to both further and higher education.
Pay is under attack too. Compounding successive below inflation rises, the announcement of an extended pay freeze means that, without action on pay, we will suffer a 25 percent cut in real incomes.
All sections of the union want to resist these attacks. The crucial issues in the coming UCU elections concern strategy and tactics.
Should the UCU fight its own corner or join with other public sector unions and the student movement? Should it offer a lead or wait on what others decide?
Should it plan for escalating action or seek to improve the government’s intentions? Should it fight only on pensions or all attacks?
That is what the coming elections are about. They are not contests between enemies but between alternative strategic visions for how trade unions can best defend our services and our jobs.
UCU calls conference and lobby
UCU has organised a major conference on the defence of post-16 education for 10 March. The national executive has called a lobby of parliament to protest university funding cuts, and the White Paper’s deregulation and privatisation.
Branches should send delegates to the conference, and a significant delegation to the lobby with their banner.