Leeds UCU rally. Photo: Iain Dalton
Leeds UCU rally. Photo: Iain Dalton

Leeds Uni: Action works!

UCU member at University of Leeds

Despite union members requesting a meeting with the vice-chancellor of the University of Leeds, Simone Buitendijk, when putting in the two-week notice for the beginning of all-out strike action, it took almost a week into that action for senior management to concede to a half-hour meeting.

Yet the pressure of the University and College Union (UCU) action is working. Within a few days, concessions were made on the 100% deductions from the pay of those taking part in the marking and assessment boycott. These deductions will now be limited to 21 days’ pay.

This offer was accepted at a meeting of UCU members, with around 70% of the meeting in support.

While the marking boycott is ongoing, staff whose work remit does not include such marking can contribute to the funds for those members who are facing the deductions, thus helping to sustain the action.

While understanding why many UCU members wanted to accept the offer, Socialist Party members in Leeds UCU thought that more could have been won. It would have been better to have more time than 45 minutes at the members’ meeting to discuss the full implications of acceptance.

It is crucial that UCU members continue to link up with Unison members striking over pay (and Unite, if successfully re-balloted) and support picket lines.

While the number keeps rising of vice-chancellors who have signed letters to the University and Colleges Employers Association calling for re-opening of negotiations over pay, Simone Buitendijk is not one of them.

Indeed, on the picket lines she has been repeatedly described as totally out of touch.

If the vice-chancellor continues to refuse to meaningfully engage with the trade unions and support a decent pay rise for staff to resolve the national dispute, then, like Royal Mail chief Simon Thompson, she must go!

Leicester Uni lecturers walk out again against wage theft

Heather Rawling, Leicester Socialist Party

It’s a sign of the times that college lecturers are now veterans of the strike wave.

University of Leicester University and College Union (UCU) members are out on strike again. Strikers say: “We are striking because UCU members participating in a national marking and assessment boycott will lose pay amounting, in many cases, to over a month’s salary.”

The university management has said that there will be further withholding of pay later in the summer.

The feeling among union members is that their management is being particularly ‘difficult’, intransigent and cruel. Even if someone failed to mark just one exam, approximately 20 minutes’ work, they could lose a whole month’s pay! UCU members quite rightly say that these pay deductions are punitive.

In what seems to be a pattern in the current strike wave, management has walked away from negotiations, leaving members no option but to strike against this wage theft. It’s not that the university can’t afford to pay its staff. According to the UCU, it has an income of £340 million, with £49 million in the bank.

Picket lines have been important in keeping up morale and building cross-faculty unity. There have been discussions on union strategies to win as well as social, political and economic issues. Open-air meetings have been held. Pickets are ending with teach-outs.

The further strike programme is:

  • 26, 27, 28 and 29 June
  • 18, 19, 20 and 21 July