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UCU misses an opportunity to encourage pay resistance

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Issue 2565
UCU union should do more for higher education workers
UCU union should do more for higher education workers (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Workers in the UCU union in higher education have voted to accept a below-inflation pay offer. Bosses had offered just 1.7 percent.

The offer also does nothing to address the gender pay gap or low pay for casual workers.

Some 65 percent voted to accept, on a high turnout of 49 percent. Yet 49 percent also said they were prepared to take industrial action if the offer was rejected.

The vote comes as the Tories are under pressure over the public sector pay cap—and other workers are preparing to fight over pay. These include UCU members in further education.

Yet the UCU leadership made no recommendation on how workers should vote in the consultation.

It is a missed opportunity to win better pay for tens of thousands of workers.

UCU national executive member Carlo Morelli said in a personal capacity, “A pay campaign with the defence of higher education and the ending of student fees could have broken the government.

“It could have killed off the privatisation set in motion by the passing of the Higher Education and Research Act.”

The UCU union has elected a commission to look at industrial action and bargaining strategies. The UCU Left slate, which Socialist Worker supports, was elected in full.

The election follows UCU general secretary Sally Hunt arguing for local action to take on attacks.

Hunt told the union’s annual congress in May that local disputes had won improvements “that would never be achieved at a national level”.

But the union leadership was defeated as members voted for a motion calling for a “national industrial strategy”.

Delegates also voted for a “special sector conference” in the autumn to “determine a national UCU industrial strategy”.

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