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Betrayals by UCU leaders + Scottish lecturers dig in to win on pay

Workers have to fight for all possible resistance and hold the general secretary to account
Issue 2805
20 UCU union strikers with placards such as "Equal work, equal pay"

UCU union strikers at Staffordshire university last month (Pic: @StaffsUCU on Twitter)

The UCU union has told university bosses a marking and assessment boycott will begin at 40 branches from next Monday.

 But it has not backed this up by scheduling strikes. Without the threat of strikes, managements will impose punitive wage deductions in retaliation for the boycott.

And then on Monday afternoon Jon Hegarty, UCU’s head of bargaining, contacted branches with a new message. It said, “Last week’s meeting of branches with a mandate indicated a lack of support for continuing with the planned boycott, and last week higher education committee did not reach a decision on how to respond to that feedback.

“It is therefore necessary to ask branches again for their input as a matter of urgency, with a view to making a final decision this week about whether to go ahead with the boycott.”

This is a deliberate attempt to strangle the action.

UCU Left, which Socialist Worker supports, wrote, “We urgently need detailed instructions and guidance on how to carry out a boycott. And we need a campaign of fundraising in branches to support members whose pay will be docked. 

“If this doesn’t happen, it will be clear that the general secretary and the full time officials are trying to undermine the possibility of action taking place this term.

“Having lost the argument for a lengthy pause in the action, the general secretary is now trying to achieve the same result through delay, confusion and demoralisation.”

This would be a green light for employers to launch new attacks.

At De Montfort university in Leicester, the vice chancellor recently announced a new restructuring that would make 58 staff redundant. 

And at Staffordshire university, bosses are attempting to bring in a two-tier workforce. 

Activists must fight to make every opportunity for action as powerful as possible. But they also need to demand a new strategy. And at the union’s congress in June, workers must bring their anger against the general secretary into the open.

  • Workers in the UCU at Richmond upon Thames College, in south London, are set to strike for five days over plans to sack all 127 teachers at the college and force them to reapply for their jobs on worse terms and conditions. 

The action is set to take place from Monday to Friday next week.

  • UCU members at Furness College in Cumbria were set to strike this Wednesday after rejected management’s pay offer of a 1 percent “rise”.
  • Six further education colleges were set to strike over pay in north west England this week. Action was planned on Wednesday at Burnley College, Bury College, City of Liverpool College, Hopwood Hall, and Nelson and Colne College Group.  Then on Friday a strike was scheduled at The Manchester College.

Sophie Squire

Scottish lecturers dig in to win over pay demands 

Scottish college lecturers in the EIS union have been taking action for a month now over the last year’s pay claim. They are striking from one to two days per week. 

The extraordinary rise in inflation means that in relative terms the gap between our demands and the employers’ offer is not great. But this dispute has become a trial of strength on the part of the employers who are out to avenge successful strike action by the Fela section of EIS over several years.

We are now digging in, combining on-going strikes with action short of strike action including withholding results. 

Our determination is bolstered by the knowledge that college principals have awarded themselves huge pay rises, some reaching tens of thousands of pounds. Yet they insist that there is no money for lecturers. 

Meanwhile the Scottish government is sitting on a £580 million underspend when it would cost just £1.5 million more to meet the lecturers’ claim in full.

The 5,000 college lecturers are in the same union as Scottish teachers which is 55,000 strong. 

The EIS has not paid any strike pay as yet but hopefully this will be done soon. 

That would send a clear message to the employers that they cannot win a protracted fight. 

Despite the difficulties in the dispute, a whole swathe of colleges shut down each day we strike, and time is running out for students to receive results.

  • Listen to Polly Phillips singing a soulful campaign song here

Penny Gower

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