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From The Socialist newspaper, 4 June 2014

UCU Congress: Members losing patience with leadership

Edmund Schluessel

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.

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In The Socialist 4 June 2014:


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