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16 February 2011

UCU members prepare for battle on pensions and pay

Students came onto the streets in their thousands in the closing weeks of 2010 and university occupations sprung up all over the country. UCU members - the union for lecturers and academic-related staff - gave their full support. Now it's UCU's turn to take the lead.

Dave Beale and Sarah Mayo (UCU, personal capacity)

National strike ballots in universities over the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), jobs and pay commence on 17 February, postponed from 2 February. On 23 February, university and college strike ballots commence on the Teachers Pension Scheme (TPS). Further education (FE) colleges in England are also balloting on pay.

The union is balloting on TPS pensions not only in FE colleges but also in adult and community education provided by local authorities. In addition, UCU will ballot lecturers in English colleges on the current 0.2% pay offer.

As Socialist Party members in UCU, we urge a strong 'yes' vote for industrial action on all these issues.

In Wales, FE college members have agreed to accept a 2.3% pay award which ensured that lecturers in Wales maintain pay parity with schoolteachers.

It would be disastrous at this stage for the national leadership of the union to waiver over the strike ballots as planned. Only special national UCU delegate conferences should have the power to call off action and make the key decisions over any settlements in these critical disputes.

Wednesday 23 March - Budget Day - provides the golden opportunity for a UCU national strike in both colleges and universities on all these issues.

Students would need little encouragement to strike too. This would precede the national TUC London demonstration on 26 March and should also be followed by a further one-day UCU strike on 1 April, the day the employers propose to introduce the changes to USS pensions.