Socialist Worker

LETTERS: Our strike votes show we can beat Tory anti union law

Issue No. 2589

We can learn from how UCU fought these ballots

We can learn from how UCU fought these ballots (Pic: uncoolbob/Flickr)

The UCU union’s fantastic ballot result last Monday should give every worker a real boost.

Congratulations to all the reps and branch officers who worked their socks off to persuade the 40,000 members in the USS pension scheme to support action.

Activists organised videos, leaflets, mailshots and mass meetings. We can all learn from how UCU, and the CWU union last year, fought to win these ballots.

Most of the university branches achieved the required 50 percent turnout. That shows what can be achieved if there’s a real will to win at all levels of the union and we organise to get the vote out.

In the process they recruited loads of new members, proving that people join unions when they see them fighting back.

UCU’s members know the stakes are sky high. UCU Left supporters on the NEC have consistently argued against any shoddy deal.

UCU must hit back hard at stubborn employers intent on cutting their pension liabilities in preparation for privatisation.

Employers’ leaders want to replace guaranteed pension payments with a scheme making the stock market king.

This is theft of workers’ deferred earnings. Only hard hitting action, not tokenism, can stop it.

Student support will be vital to stop university bosses turning them against lecturers.

We’ll need everyone who supports us to pile in with solidarity messages, collections and join the pickets and demonstrations.

Laura Miles

UCU NEC member

  • I am delighted that most universities have voted to strike. And let’s all build the action.

But I hope it doesn’t mean that every union decides national ballots are a mistake and that we must ballot workplace by workplace.

“Disaggregated” ballots where each workplace votes separately can leave all the weaker ones on the sidelines. National action is still possible.

Ann Davis

East London

Up the Nantes protesters!

I was inspired this week to read of the success of campaigners in Nantes in south-western France.

They have fought for over a decade against proposals to build a new airport in their area.

The airport would have brought more noise pollution, environmental pollution, traffic, destroyed farmland and the countryside.

Their campaign brought together a diverse coalition of farmers, residents, environmentalists and direct action campaigners.

It combined direct action with mass protests—every year 40,000 people would join a demonstration against the airport.

The lessons are there for everyone fighting over environmental campaigns today—whether its against fracking or airport expansion in Britain.

The success in Nantes shows us that campaigning can win.

We must stop big business—whether it’s fracking companies or airport corporations flattening our local communities. To do this we need mass united campaigns that can bring together campaigners from different backgrounds and traditions.

Martin Empson


Building Holocaust Memorial Day

The Oxford Stand Up To Racism Holocaust educational exhibition has got off to a good start with over 70 people coming on the first day.

In the exhibition there are boards of text, graphics and photos. This year we played interviews with Holocaust survivors.

Our first exhibition last year received good reviews and we were able to secure a free room in the Town Hall this year. People asked us to run it for a longer period, which we have.

This year we have incorporated short talks from Jewish, Muslim, Roma, LGBT+ and disabled people, women, trade unionists and the Labour movement.

Schools advertised the event in newsletters to parents, local councils advertised it on their websites. The Oxford university Jewish and Islamic societies and local trade unions also helped build the event.

Julie Simmons


  • Up to 50 people attended a Holocaust Memorial meeting in Cambridge organised by Cambridge Unite Against Fascism (UAF) and Cambridge National Education Union (NUT section).

Some school students present decided to organise a Love Music Hate Racism gig at their school. The meeting ended with a call for people to attend the Stand Up to Racism national demo.

Richard Rose


Creeping privatisation

Stockport hospital NHS anti-cuts protest is now in its 70th week.

This placard is a message from one of the protesters to health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Hunt is just the latest political creep to try and sell off our NHS.

But the Carrillion disaster shows how urgent it is to completely reverse their privatisation process.

Labour’s previous role in privatisation means that the party under Corbyn’s leadership will be held to account on this.

There must be no backsliding!

John Murphy


Stay angry at refugee crisis

At the ferry port of Ouistreham in northern France over 80 young men are being denied basic human rights.

The local mayor and prefect impose draconian policies both on the refugees and anybody trying to help them.

Many Brits are totally unaware that 3,000 refugees are still around Calais and are in dire straits.

The cops are still gassing, beating and intimidating refugees.

Steve Hill

Placy Montaigu

BBC is racist towards India

For the past several decades the BBC has carried on a relentless propaganda campaign against India. Its commentaries often reek of racist patronage and condescension.

There is a huge underswell of resentment against Britain.

V Ramnath


John Prescott the hypocrite

While John Prescott might well have threatened the renationalisation of the railways in 1993, he soon gave up his “old socialist principles”.

On pages 171-173 of his autobiography he proudly boasts that it was he who invented the public-private partnership.

John Newsinger


Obama was a monster too

I read your report of the Women’s March (Socialist Worker online)

But where were the protests against Obama’s eight years continuous warfare?

Dominic Davidson

On Facebook

Great to see students fight

Amazing to see students at UAL in Elephant and Castle in south London occupy their university against gentrification.

It gives me confidence to see young people fight back.

Kim Hunter

On Facebook

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.