Workers at around 20 university branches continued a marking and assessment boycott last week. The action was rolled out despite those at the top of the UCU union trying to dismantle the dispute.
Workers have waged a long‑running battle against their pensions being sold off to a worse scheme. And they’re also fighting over pay, workloads, casualisation and equalities—known as the “four fights”.
Management in several institutions have threatened workers with deductions of up to 100 percent of their pay for taking part in the marking and assessment boycott.
Workers’ determination to keep on fighting in the face of bosses’ attacks show how strongly they feel about the dispute. But this resolve is not shared by UCU general secretary Jo Grady or her supporters who have tried to crush this dispute.
The union could have backed the boycott by calling strikes and twinned non‑participating branches with those taking part. This week the UCU Left group are calling for the censure of Grady at UCU congress. It wrote, “The Four Fights and USS disputes are turning into a model of how not to organise a Britain-wide dispute.”
It added, “In the context of the worst cost of living crisis in a generation, the general secretary’s plan to pause the fights until next year is completely inadequate. It would condemn us to yet another year of real-terms pay cuts.
“It effectively concedes as permanent the changes imposed to USS, and it abandons our casualised colleagues and those suffering from pay gaps to their fate.” UCU Left also pointed out that despite Grady initially being voted in as president to make change in the union in 2018, she has taken the same route as her predecessor Sally Hunt. New leadership is desperately needed in the UCU and for the union listen to the voice of members and activists.
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