The future of the two separate but connected university disputes hung in the balance on Monday of this week.
On Monday members of the UCU union discussed the way forward at a Branch Delegates Meeting. It debated when to take further action over cuts to the USS pension scheme. They also were set to decide the fate of their dispute over workload, pay, equalities and casualisation.
The meeting comes after a campaign by those at the top of the union, including general secretary Jo Grady, to sabotage the dispute and cancel action. Now activists within the union are trying to save their dispute and are pushing for fresh ballots over whether to strike to open in the summer.
UCU Left, which Socialist Worker supports, wrote, “It’s at this moment—when the hopes of so many ordinary people are rising—that our general secretary and her closest supporters tell us we should put off any attempt to fight until the spring or even later.”
Workers at the Hugh Baird College in Merseyside have voted to strike after they were offered just a 1 percent pay rise. An impressive 94 percent of UCU union members voted yes to strikes, and 98 percent voted for action short of a strike on a 74 percent turnout.
Teachers and support staff at Holland Park School in west London have struck for eight days against bosses’ academisation plans. The NEU union members oppose the selection of United Learning as the only multi-academy trust for the school to be absorbed into.
They are also angry at performance related pay, and at changes to teaching assistant contracts that could amount to fire and rehire. Strikers protested outside the Department for Education in central London last week.
Strikes at Our Lady and St. George Primary school, in Walthamstow, east London, have been suspended as the teachers have beat back restructuring plans.
Workers at CNH Industrial tractor factory in Basildon are fighting over pay. More than 500 workers—almost the entire shop floor—were set to strike on Thursday of this week and Friday of next week. Further strikes are planned for 11, 18 and 19 July, as well as 26 and 30 August.
Workers at housing association Thirteen Housing Group in north east England and Yorkshire have suspended the first of four weeks of strikes to vote on an improved offer. The result of the ballot—the details of which have been kept confidential—were due on Thursday of this week.
Refuse workers in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, have called off strikes after being offered a 7.5 percent pay rise. The members of the GMB union, who are outsourced to Veolia, voted 100 percent in favour of strikes in May.
They also accepted the new deal unanimously. While the threat of strikes forced Veolia to improve its offer, 7.5 percent is below inflation. Refuse workers have proven several times in the last year that they can win big when they fight.
Workers at a Saint Gobain factory in Stafford are angry after being offered a tiny pay deal. The company which makes abrasives, including sandpaper, offered workers a 3 percent deal.
Members of the GMB union are set to vote on whether to strike in a consultative ballot.
Pub workers at the Saint James Tavern in Brighton have struck over low pay and precarious contracts.
Workers at the pub are demanding to be paid at least £11.50 an hour and to be awarded full sick pay. They also want formal recognition for their union, the UVW.
Cleaners at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have voted to strike over pay and victimisation. Bosses promised last year to bring workers in house but have since refused to meet.
The members of the IWGB union are also angry that since mounting a campaign for better pay, six union members have been disciplined by management.
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