By Sadie Robinson
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UCU calls 14 days of walkouts in 74 universities

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Issue 2690
UCU union members on strike in Bradford during a walkout last year
UCU union members on strike in Bradford during a walkout last year (Pic: Neil Terry)

Strikes will hit 74 universities across Britain in February and March.

The action will begin with a two-day walkout on Thursday 20 February.

UCU union members will then escalate strikes each week, ending with a week-long strike. They will strike for 14 days in total.

Workers are engaged in two disputes. One is to defend their pension scheme.

The other is to fight for a real terms pay rise, plus changes to contracts and workloads.

Union members at 60 universities held a fantastic eight-day strike last year. Now 14 more branches will join the action after reballoting for strikes.

Some 35 out of 37 branches reballoted voted for walkouts, and 14 met the Tories’ 50 percent turnout threshold for legal strikes.

Roddy is the UCU branch organiser at Imperial College London, which met the threshold this time.

“We got a really good result and our reps are all very pleased,” he told Socialist Worker. “There’s a lot of class anger.”

Bosses made a new offer to workers as the reballots closed.

Roddy said the offer was “honeyed words” with no real promises.

And UCU negotiator Jo McNeill told Socialist Worker, “This is not an offer we can accept.”

Bosses have refused to budge from a below-inflation pay deal.

Their offer is a green light to keep casual contracts, low pay, soaring workloads and stress.

Last year’s strikes won support from workers and students, and drew thousands of new members to the union.

Workers can win.

When are the strikes?

  • Week one – Thursday 20 & Friday 21 February
  • Week two – Monday 24, Tuesday 25 & Wednesday 26 February
  • Week three – Monday 2, Tuesday 3, Wednesday 4 & Thursday 5 March
  • Week four – Monday 9, Tuesday 10, Wednesday 11, Thursday 12 & Friday 13 March

Click here for a full list of universities taking action

EIS university pay ballots

EIS-ULA union members at 13 Scottish universities have voted for strikes over pay.

Workers are fighting a below-inflation 1.8 percent pay offer.

The union said the offer follows “years of sub-inflationary pay settlements” that have slashed the value of workers’ pay by 20 percent.

The overall turnout in the ballots was 52 percent. However, the ballots were disaggregated, meaning each branch is counted separately. The union said action could be called in the six institutions that achieved a turnout of 50 percent or higher, which is the threshold for legal strikes.These are Edinburgh Napier University, Glasgow School of Art, University of Aberdeen, University of Abertay, University of Strathclyde and the University of the West of Scotland.

Workers at Glasgow Caledonian, Heriot Watt, Queen Margaret, Robert Gordon, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow all voted for strikes but did not reach the turnout threshold.

The union said it would consider its next steps this week.

It should call walkouts to coincide with strikes by UCU members in 74 universities, set to start later this month. 

Vote for Hill and UCU Left

Elections are underway in the UCU union.

The UCU Left, which Socialist Worker supports, is backing Margot Hill for vice president. Margot is a UCU branch secretary at Croydon College in south London.

She is standing on a platform of building resistance to Tory attacks on education, and of empowering ordinary union members to take action. “Marketisation is the enemy we have to break,” said Margot. “When the union puts up a fight, members not only join, they want to be empowered and they want to control the direction and strategy of those fights.”

Socialist Worker also backs a slate of UCU Left candidates standing for positions on the union’s NEC and as trustees.

lGo to for more information and margot4vpucu

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