The UCU union’s national executive committee (NEC) met last Friday. We faced a problem.
After the magnificent coordinated strike on 30 November, action has stalled. Major unions have signed up to the government’s “heads of agreement” (HoA).
And the unions that rejected it have not called further action.
General secretary Sally Hunt wanted to put the HoA out to ballot. But the vast majority on the NEC disagreed.
We rejected that this “offer” was significantly different to what was on the table before.If we didn’t ballot then, why would we ballot now?
We had also previously voted to coordinate any ballot with our sister unions. They are not balloting on the deal.
We proposed to approach other unions that have rejected the HoA, to organise coordinated rolling, selective or regional action in February, followed by a national strike on 1 March.
But we also argued that the UCU should state clearly that it is prepared to strike on 1 March—and call on other unions to join us.
Hunt was asked to report back to the UCU’s Strategy and Finance Committee on Friday of this week and an NEC on 10 February.
The plan should be debated across UCU branches and regions ahead of the next NEC.
UCU isn’t precious about dates. If others want to strike on another day that’s OK. But we cannot allow the government to impose changes on 1 April without a response.
30 November showed we have the power to win. The UCU NEC has outlined a programme of action. If implemented across the public sector, it can shift the government.