Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/12171

Posted on 7 June 2011 at 14:59 GMT

UCU congress calls for 24-hour public sector strike

UCU lecturers on a three day strike to stop redundancies at Sheffield College  , photo A Tice

UCU lecturers on a three day strike to stop redundancies at Sheffield College , photo A Tice   (Click to enlarge)

As the University and College Union (UCU) met for its annual congress in Harrogate (28-30 May), almost certainly the most important debates in the higher education (HE) conference section concerned pensions.

UCU has quite rightly committed itself to strike action on 30 June in defence of the Teachers' Pension Scheme (TPS), alongside a number of other public sector unions.

This is an important first step in defending TPS, in conjunction with teachers in schools who share this scheme. It is also vitally important in building a common campaign with other public sector unions to decisively reject the 'Hutton report' proposals on pensions.

However, regarding the pension scheme for the old pre-1992 universities - the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) - UCU higher education delegates narrowly rejected a motion calling for the final salary principle to be non-negotiable.

As a result, the union's USS pensions negotiators can now explore a possible settlement based on 'career average' salaries for some parts of the scheme - although the employers may well still refuse to talk to the union without a very aggressive programme of industrial action!

Whilst all socialists must accept the democratic authority of the union conference, this decision will probably prove to be a basic mistake for UCU, potentially conceding the operation of dual schemes and creating a slippery slope.

However, conference did carry a Manchester University motion instructing the union to call national HE delegate conferences to review progress in the dispute and before putting any deal to the membership.

This may re-open the debate on the final salary vs career average salary aspect, once conference delegates report back to their branches and respond to membership reaction to this decision.

Further Education sector

There were no surprises at the further education (FE) sector conference where the many serious issues facing college staff and students were discussed and debated.

Longstanding issues such as punitive lesson observation schemes, contracts, casualisation, and principals' pay, received attention once again - quite rightly.

However, fierce new battles have loomed large since the Con-Dem government came to power. Conference reiterated its opposition to the scrapping of the Education Maintenance Allowance and pledged to continue to campaign with other unions and the National Union of Students to ensure that financial support is provided so that all young people can access post-16 education and training.

The Action for ESOL campaign was congratulated and supported for its demands for fully-funded English language provision for all who need it and cannot afford to contribute to the cost, and the preservation of ESOL departments and teaching posts.

The relatively short agenda of the conference allowed for a full and vitally important discussion of the attack on pensions. UCU members in FE took strike action on 24 March in defence of TPS and the sector is committed to further action with the NUT and other unions on 30 June.

Conference also called for a relaunching of UCU's Manifesto for Education - as part of its defence of the FE sector, jobs, pay and conditions. Never has this been more important, at a time of unprecedented attacks on access to education for working-class people, and on all those who work in FE and community education.

Moving away from action?

UCU called on the TUC to a organise a 24-hour general strike across the public sector against the cuts and a second "march for the alternative" in autumn 2011.

However, Sally Hunt, the UCU general secretary gave a speech that was both a surreptitious call for re-election and a call for the realignment of the union away from the more militant path it has taken in the wake of the student protests last year and towards a more conciliatory, 'professional' position.

Hunt called for the union to prepare for the introduction of local bargaining, withdrawing from the union's previous position. In order to placate activists she argued that the union should provide more legal support for caseworkers and increase the number of union officials in order to do this.

In effect Hunt's speech was a call for conciliation with the privatising Con-Dem government and a viewpoint that cuts to public spending in education cannot be reversed.

At a time when the union movement is slowly moving towards collective action and the key date of 30 June is looming, this is at best defeatist and is not what the movement requires.

Education at both FE and HE level is a public right and education professionals should be at the forefront of fighting for this principle. What is needed from the UCU is a strong, militant position, joining with other unions to defeat the government and work towards an equitable education system that works for all, regardless of income.

Justin Pollard, Dave Beale and Susan Wills (UCU, personal capacity)

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.






Related links:

UCU:

triangleStriking back against sackers' charter at Leeds Uni

triangleUniversity of Leeds workers walk out

triangleEscalate summer strike wave into coordinated action to defeat the pay cap

triangleFight university's 'sackers' charter'

triangleWorkplace news in brief

Public sector:

triangleConference on state spies: who's watching who?

triangleUnite local government sector plans strike ballot

triangleTories scrap the NHS pay cap: now fight for real-terms pay rises!

trianglePCS ballots members on the pay cap

Education:

triangleSchools "can't go any further" - stop the cuts: set deficit budgets now

triangleNasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

triangleFreshers week campaigning reports

Union:

triangleRoyal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

trianglePowerful picture of the Port Talbot steel workers' struggle

Unions:

triangleHundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP

Universities:

triangleInterview with leader of students' union in the Spanish state: "When we fight, we win!"

College:

triangleFight for free education

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

19/10/17

North West

Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

18/10/17

Democratic rights

Conference on state spies: who's watching who?

18/10/17

Leeds

Striking back against sackers' charter at Leeds Uni

18/10/17

PCS

PCS ballots members on the pay cap

18/10/17

Royal Mail

Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

18/10/17

Art

'Dazzling' Bad Art show points to socialist future

18/10/17

Council

Sheffield Labour council threatens peaceful protesters with prison

18/10/17

South West Wales

Hundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP

18/10/17

NHS

Uprising to save the NHS!

18/10/17

Socialism

Can you donate to the Socialism 2017 appeal?

18/10/17

East London

No cuts - hands off King George A&E!

18/10/17

North London

North London hospital workers fight cuts and job losses

18/10/17

BAE

Nationalise to save jobs at BAE Systems

18/10/17

Schools

Schools "can't go any further" - stop the cuts: set deficit budgets now

18/10/17

Swansea

Socialist Students 'welcome' Hillary Clinton to Swansea

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle19 Oct Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangle18 Oct Russia, October 1917: When workers took power

triangle18 Oct Tories torn - bin them now

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

triangle11 Oct CWU fights court attempt to stop national strike

triangle11 Oct The fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against...

More ...

triangle19 Oct Waltham Forest Young Socialists: Deaths in police custody

triangle19 Oct Swansea Socialist Party: Spanish revolution 1936-37

triangle19 Oct Cardiff East Socialist Party: Is equality for women possible under capitalism?

triangle19 Oct Wirral Socialist Party: The October 1917 Russian Revolution

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2