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Reports round-up: Battle goes on in the UCU

There are attempts by union bosses to delay further action and deescalate the dispute—members must keep up the pressure
Issue 2084
15 UCU members at Liverpool university with UCU placards

UCU members want to carry on fighting

Trade unionists must keep battling attempts by the top of the UCU union to end their fight. Members of the UCU union have already hit back at several attempts by general sectary Jo Grady and her supporters to halt their dispute.

Earlier this year 40 branches voted to strike in another wave of action over the “four fights”. They are fighting over pay, inequalities, workload, casualisation and against cuts to the USS pension scheme.

And branch delegates voted overwhelmingly for a marking and assessment boycott backed up by strikes. Grady recently announced that marking and assessment boycotts would begin on 23 May. For many this is already much too late and with every day that workers delay, the boycott will become less effective.

Immediate action is also needed to support branches who are striking in local disputes. Workers at Queen Mary university voted to strike for ten days earlier this month. UCU members are striking to demand that university management rule out a 100 percent pay deduction for when they take action short of a strike.

Workers will strike from Monday to Friday of this week and then from Monday until Wednesday of next week. Cleaners at Connaught school for girls in Walthamstow, east London are continuing to strike over Transfer of Undertakings (TUPE) transfer. They will walk out for three days this week as TUPE transfers do not protect workers indefinitely.


Staff at Coulsdon Sixth Form College in Croydon, south London are determined to fight management over a refusal to honour nationally agreed pay awards.

They were set to walk out for two days this week. Workers say they feel undervalued and are experiencing staffing issues due to recruitment problems because of low pay.

Workers also say that they are struggling with the rising cost of living.  Despite this workers remain determined.NEU members voted 95 percent for strikes. If no offer is made they will walk out for three days next week.


NEU members at Walthamstow Primary Academy in east London were set to begin a nine-day series of strikes this week. Workers planned action on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week.

Their fight against high workload, low pay and bullying has won some significant concessions from management. But action continues. 

Workers will strike from Tuesday to Thursday next week, and 24, 25 and 26 May.


Royal College of Arts victory

After an inspiring and long-running fight, university workers at the Royal College of Art have won a host of measures that will improve conditions at the university.

Workers took 41 days of strikes. They have won full employment rights, an end to zero hour contracts, caps on workloads for teaching staff and new routes to permanent contracts.

Nathan Francois, UCU RCA branch secretary, said, “This victory is a timely reminder that union members and branches have real and meaningful power to shape their working conditions together through industrial action, solidarity, and support from workers and students across higher and further education.”


Royal Mail workers prepare to launch a ballot over pay

Royal Mail workers are gearing up for a strike ballot over pay. Workers began holding large union workplace meetings on Monday morning.

Delegates at the CWU’s postal conference last month voted to declare a dispute and prepare for a ballot if bosses didn’t budge. Bosses at Royal Mail put forward a pay increase of just 3.5 percent coupled with a raft of new attacks on working conditions.

Delegates agreed the union should declare a dispute if an acceptable offer was “not in sight” by Friday of last week. Previous agreements say there has to be a four-week talking period after declaring a dispute. But the CWU says if there’s no agreement after this, it will launch a ballot.


Dundee University pension strike ends

Workers in Dundee are finishing off their month-long strike against pension cuts this week. Some 300 workers, who are members of the Unison union are battling against bosses plans to slash the value of their pensions. Bosses also want to raise the retirement age to 68 and close the existing pension scheme to new claimants.


Sandwell walkout over rubbish pay

Facilities operated by Sandwell Leisure Trust were hit  on Tuesday when 280 workers struck for better pay. Members of the Unison, GMB and Unite unions walked out for a 10 percent pay rise, or a return to the national pay scale. Bosses had offered just 3.47 percent for this year.

In March 2021, bosses fired and rehired all workers, removing them from the national agreement for pay, terms and conditions.


Alstom workers on C2C picket lines

Maintenance engineers employed by Alstom on the C2C rail line between London and Southend began a series of strikes on Monday. Workers in the Unite union are fighting a pay offer of just 2.5 percent.

Last year Alstom reported net profits of £150 million. Managers recently received a 10 percent pay rise. Workers voted 95 percent in favour of strikes and further action is planned in the coming weeks.


Historic strike at financial regulator

Workers at the Financial Conduct Authority in London and Edinburgh held a 48-hour strike on Wednesday and Thursday last week.

It is the first ever strike at the regulator since it was founded. It follows many months of refusals by FCA management to listen to the concerns of their workforce.

The FCA has rejected all approaches to engage in discussions with employee representatives. Further action is planned for 9 and 10 June and then 5 and 6 July.


Strike ballot looms at Norwich council

Workers employed by a Norwich City Council-owned company are set for a formal strike ballot after they overwhelmingly rejected a 4.2 percent pay offer in a consultative ballot.

About 200 workers are employed by NCSL in jobs such as grave diggers, housing maintenance staff, street cleaners and in parks. Their Unite union said the pay offer was “woefully inadequate”.

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