Socialist Worker

UCU lecturers' union announce new strikes but members want more

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2386

Strikers at Barnsley college picket line in December last year

Strikers at Barnsley college picket line in December last year (Pic: George Arthur)


The lecturers’ UCU union has announced a series of two-hour strikes in an ongoing dispute over pay. The first is set to take place on Thursday of next week from 11am. Further two-hour strikes are set for Tuesday 28 January from 2pm and for Monday 10 February from 9am.

Many lecturers are furious that the union has failed to call more effective action, following two successful 24-hour strikes last year. The UCU Left, which Socialist Worker supporters are part of, said the decision was “nothing short of a disgrace”.

The move to two-hour strikes goes against the overwhelming vote of UCU delegates at a national higher education sector conference last year. It also goes against the mood at four regional meetings held last September.

Mark Campbell is a member of the UCU’s national executive committee and a union rep at London Metropolitan University. He told Socialist Worker, “Last year’s strikes were a big success and showed that there’s a mood to fight over pay among lecturers.

“Calling two-hour strikes and de-escalating the campaign risks throwing away that mood and the momentum that has been built up.

“We need to fight to make any strike as successful as we can. But we urgently need to escalate our campaign over pay.

“That should start with supporting Unison's call for a full day's united strike, which is likely to take place on 6 February. Every branch should hold meetings and pass motions to put the pay campaign strategy back on track.

“Lecturers need to get to the four regional consultation meetings taking place next week and make it clear that they want to escalate the action.”

Calling two-hour strikes makes it harder to organise joint action with other unions. It also means many lecturers won’t be able to take part. Only a small percentage of UCU members will be teaching or meeting during any two-hour period.

Union leaders have also decided to postpone plans to boycott marking to April. The boycott had been due to start this month. This will weaken the impact of the action as a lot of marking will already be complete by that time.

Last year’s strikes showed the potential to win – lecturers should put pressure on their union leaders to build on them.

Regional UCU meetings are set to take place on:

 

Birmingham: Tuesday 21 January

Manchester: Friday 24 January

London: Wednesday 29 January


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