By Sophie Squire
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University votes show there is still mood for action

Nearly 75 percent of UCU union members who voted backed more strikes.
Issue 2800
Eight smiling and confident-looking pickets at Westminster university

Strikers at Westminster university

Strike ballots of university workers across Britain have shown strong support to continue the fight. In ballots over the four fights—pay, workloads, casualisation and equalities—nearly 75 percent of UCU union members who voted backed more strikes.

The vote in favour is higher than in ballots that concluded in November last year when 70 percent were for action. This shows that university workers are in no way retreating from the battle. But they need a focus, a strategy to win and clear leadership.

And the results are all the more admirable because the union leaders imposed a very short three-week balloting period.

But the minimum turnout required under anti-union laws will prevent most universities from taking action under the rules. However 36 institutions did both record a majority for action and exceed the 50 percent turnout.

Three other universities could join them on the picket line because they did not need to re-ballot. And more were set to be added to the list of potentially striking universities when ballots over pension cuts were announced after Socialist Worker went to press.

The decision about what next in the battles will take place at special conferences on 20 and 27 April. Having scuppered the recent attempt by supporters of the union leadership to pause or end the disputes, activists are now demanding escalated strikes and an exam marking boycott next term.

This is the only way to beat back the university bosses and win real gains for tens of thousands of lecturers who have been striking.

The importance of keeping up the fight was shown as 16 members of staff received redundancy notices at Goldsmiths university last week. Workers have been subjected to a brutal restructuring of the university proposed by banks like Lloyds and Natwest, which has prompted several rounds of local strikes.

Goldsmiths UCU tweeted that the bosses “have just lit the match and sent out redundancy notices to colleagues in ECW, History and Professional Services. “We will continue fighting the vandals who are wrecking Goldsmiths. This fight is not over. By a long shot.”

  • Further education college workers also look ready to join the fight for better pay and conditions.

The UCU submitted a formal pay claim to the Association of Colleges to raise wages by 10 percent. The union has also called for improvements to workload.

And the mood to fight for better pay in colleges is there.

A good 91 percent of members have said that they would be prepared to strike in an indicative ballot.

Bringing together local and national fights in higher and further education has the power to win..

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