Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/768/16841
Lecturers' union UCU members vote to fight austerity
Thomas House and James Naish
On 29-31 May, the University and College Union (UCU) held its national congress in Brighton. The congress took place against the backdrop of vicious Con-Dem cuts, which had provoked massive anger among delegates who voted to reject employers' insulting pay offers and to ballot for industrial action in further and higher education.
Another important vote involved support for a national strategy to defend post-16 education, which was successfully amended to call on the TUC to: "lay urgent concrete plans for united strike action against Tory austerity policies".
There are, however, dangers of a repeat of the recent failure to defend pensions due to the dominance of general secretary Sally Hunt (who was not present at congress due to illness) and her supporters.
Socialist Party members have always warned against the direction that this section of the union wishes to pursue, attacking its democratic structures.
Their arguments that UCU should pursue its own version of austerity to balance its books, at the expense of democratic and campaigning activity, were defeated.
Now the task is, in the words of the congress, to 'Build the Union', which can only be done if a serious coordinated battle on pay is pursued.
The attacks on the pay and conditions of academics and academic-related staff in higher and further education are not taking place in a vacuum.
The UCU membership understands that and delegates therefore voted for united action across all unions to defeat the Con-Dems' austerity, and to call on all Labour councillors to refuse to implement cuts.
In The Socialist 5 June 2013:
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