More strikes could be called in universities across Britain this week, as reballots for action close in 37 UCU union branches.
Workers are fighting to defend their USS pension scheme and also for improvements to pay, contracts and workload.
They held a magnificent eight-day strike across 60 universities last year.
Reballots took place in branches that voted for walkouts but failed to meet the Tories’ 50 percent turnout threshold for strikes.
A special UCU conference in December voted for a further 14 days of strikes to defend the USS scheme.
Carlo Morelli is a UCU rep at Dundee University and is on the union’s national executive committee. He told Socialist Worker, “All signs are that the reballots are going very well. There’s momentum building for further action.
“We need to keep up the action, and bring in more branches. And we should go with the conference decision and call 14 days of strikes.”
The union’s higher education committee was set to meet on Thursday of this week to discuss the next steps in the disputes. Some in the union argue that there should be “consultation” over the pay dispute. But activists in several UCU branches have passed motions calling on the union to keep fighting over pay and pensions simultaneously.
As UCU Left candidate for the union’s vice president Margot Hill said, “Uniting the fights in higher education gives us the best chance of winning.”
Vote left in UCU elections
Elections begin in the UCU union on Friday of this week.
Socialist Worker is backing UCU Left candidate Margot Hill for UCU vice president, and a number of candidates for the union’s national executive committee. Margot is a lecturer at Croydon College in south London. She is standing on a platform of building resistance to Tory attacks on education and workers’ conditions.
“Given the scale of attacks on our sector, coordinating and maximising action is essential,” she said.
The elections run until 4 March. Other UCU Left candidates include Bruce Baker, Roddy Slorach, Alan Barker, Jo McNeill, Julie Hearn, Sunil Banga, Saleem Rashid and Richard McEwan.
‘Serious and sustained’ action on cards at London campus
Workers at the University of Liverpool’s central London campus could strike in a dispute over redundancy payouts.
UCU union members at the campus, which will close this year, are balloting for strikes.
They are angry at bosses’ refusal to match a previous voluntary redundancy offer made to staff in Liverpool in 2018.
The union said this will cost a typical lecturer around £15,000.
The ballot ends on 14 February and the union has threatened “serious and sustained” action from April if necessary.
Coventry workers strike over appraisals
UCU union members at Coventry university began a two-day walkout on Tuesday of this week
The union says that a new appraisals policy introduced in 2017 forces workers to “jump through unnecessary hoops to achieve an annual pay award that is standard at other institutions”.