Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/813/18695
UCU Congress: Members losing patience with leadership
The 2014 congress of the University and College Union (UCU) brought to the fore members' dissatisfaction with an eighth consecutive year of a right-wing leadership undermining lecturers' and academic staff's need to fight and circumventing union democracy.
Last year UCU members in higher education voted by a solid majority to take national action against yet another real-terms pay cut.
UCU's leadership promised an escalating programme of multi-day strikes as well as a marking boycott, but delivered neither, so the congress decided - for the second time in three years - to give UCU's higher education committee a formal rebuke for abandoning a winnable fight.
With a new attack on the USS pension scheme on the horizon, UCU's higher education leaders must reverse course immediately and pursue militant action, not tokenistic two-hour strikes.
In the further education sector the picture looks no better, after a decision not to back the NUT's call for coordinated national action in July.
The pay dispute in English FE was similarly undermined by UCU's leadership, with only a single strike day taken despite members' demands.
Leading members of UCU see these votes as resulting from a collapse in confidence in the union's leadership to deliver a successful winning strategy.
In sharp contrast, there was thunderous applause for the actions of Lambeth College UCU, who on 3 June commenced indefinite strike action against privatisation and cuts in the college.
UCU remains a union where the average member remains organically opposed to cuts and austerity. It needs to be developed into a force which can fight and win against attacks on education and all public services.
In The Socialist 4 June 2014:
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Building the Socialist Party