Socialist Worker

UCU union levy row + firefighters’ pay + Drax strike vote

Issue No. 2712

It was right to strike earlier this year

It was right to strike earlier this year (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Activists in the UCU union are resisting a planned levy on members announced by general secretary Jo Grady.

Grady said the levy would boost the union’s fighting fund. It has sparked anger from union members.

Several have questioned why all members should pay the same flat £15 rate when earnings are widely different.

Many casualised staff, who have suffered loss of hours and pay during the pandemic, were furious.

Workers were also angry at a UCU online meeting held to explain the levy last week, where there was no chance for members to voice their opinions.

Activists in the UCU Left said that Grady tried to blame problems in the union on left activists.

This included the idea that pushing for national strikes was financially reckless.

UCU Left said, “Members voted overwhelmingly for action in ballots. We were right to fight then and it is right to fight now.”

Some 16,000 people have joined the UCU since it fought to defend pensions, pay and conditions. There is a growing need for more resistance as now.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies suggested that 13 universities could go bust without a government bailout.

UCU Left said the union needs “a national campaign” to resist attacks on further and higher education.


Strike vote begins at Drax

Workers at the Drax power station in North Yorkshire were this week beginning a ballot for strikes to resist some 230 proposed redundancies.

They have overwhelmingly rejected the latest offer from the company. In a consultative ballot 84 percent said no to the management plans.

The workers’ Unite union said that if workers vote for strikes it would be the first time that such action had taken place at the highly profitable plant. It is owned by Drax Group Ltd.

The dispute centres on the six-unit site at Selby, where the company is planning to close two coal-fired units next April.

The other four units are biomass, using wood chip pellets. The coal powered units are being replaced by gas generation ones.

There needs to be sustainable energy production, but workers must not pay the price for it.


Delay must not douse firefighters’ pay claim

Firefighters have been left waiting as employers missed a deadline to make a pay offer.

The FBU union has said it is disappointed not to have received an offer from fire service national employers, which was due on 1 July.

The FBU last month demanded an “immediate and substantial increase” to firefighter pay to tackle a decade of austerity and government pay freezes.

However, employers have cited “practical problems” with employer consultation meetings as a reason for the delay.

There must be no more delay in producing an offer that recognises firefighters’ worth.

Any pay agreement reached after the 1 July deadline must be backdated to that date.

 


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