Socialist Worker

Action and strike votes at universities and colleges

Issue No. 2728

Heriot-Watt workers picketing in March

Heriot-Watt workers picketing in March (Pic: @UCU_HWUBranch on Twitter)


Strike vote at Heriot-Watt

Workers at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh have overwhelmingly voted for strikes to save jobs. Bosses there want to slash 130 jobs and have refused to rule out compulsory redundancies. 

UCU union members voted by 77 percent for strikes, on a turnout of 66 percent. Some 88 percent also backed action short of a strike. 

The union branch said the vote was a “clear mandate” from workers to take action on a “record turnout”.

UCU Scotland official Mary Senior called on bosses to commit to no compulsory redundancies.

But she also said there was “good progress” on voluntary redundancies. 

In reality, any job cuts will mean a worse education for students and increased workload and stress for staff.

Bosses already slashed 70 jobs in 2017—damaging education. The union should resist all cuts. 

Other UCU branches are also fighting attacks on jobs and pay. 

At the University of Central Lancashire, bosses have threatened to sack up to 69 workers. The UCU has said it could ballot for strikes. 

UCU members are also in dispute at the University of Roehampton, where bosses want to slash jobs, particularly in Arts and Humanities.

Workers there passed a motion last week calling for a consultative ballot for industrial action.

They also passed a motion of no confidence in the vice-chancellor. 

Send solidarity messages to [email protected] Support the Heriot-Watt solidarity fund at bit.ly/HWfund Go to @ucu_solidarity on Twitter for further initiatives

Forth Valley College action is planned over new roles

Lecturers at Forth Valley College in the EIS teaching union have voted in a statutory ballot for action to protect their jobs.

Some 83 percent voted to back a work to contract which, in conditions of remote teaching, will paralyse the operation of the college.

The pandemic may have altered the way ballots are campaigned for, but this shows that they can be won.

Management is telling randomly selected lecturers that their jobs have disappeared and they must reapply for new instructor posts.

These pay thousands of pounds less and have class contact up to 35 hours per week—meaning no time for marking or preparation.

They also have worse holidays, and are classed as support roles rather than lecturing roles.

Yet what the individual is expected to deliver remains exactly the same.

The quality of service that students get from a harassed and overworked teacher will decline.

Even employers are talking of withdrawing students from the college as they will only get second-rate provision.

Forth Valley lecturers will not be fighting alone.

College employers have said that this approach will be rolled out across Scotland and the EIS has declared a national dispute as a result.

Preparations are underway for a ballot of all lecturers later this year with industrial action set to take place in early 2021.

Donny Gluckstein


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