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From The Socialist newspaper, 28 March 2018

UCU: Strike action forces bosses to retreat but keep the pressure on

Sheffield university UCU and students vote No deal and to keep the strike going, 13.3.18, photo Alistair Tice

Sheffield university UCU and students vote No deal and to keep the strike going, 13.3.18, photo Alistair Tice   (Click to enlarge)

Sam Morecroft, Sheffield UCU anti-casualisation officer (personal capacity)

The University and College Union (UCU) received an offer on 23 March that showed how completely we have forced employers Universities UK (UUK) on to the back foot. They have offered to maintain the existing pension structure for a year, and crucially have agreed to a joint UUK/UCU working group to re-evaluate the pension fund.

It took a gargantuan effort by members to get us here - around 45,000 of us have taken more days of strike action collectively than were taken in the whole of 2015 or 2016 across all sectors! And when our union leadership announced an 'agreement' before branches could be consulted, members mobilised to seize control of the dispute and to reject the shoddy deal.

We are on the cusp of victory - but we're not quite there yet. The strike action and determination of our members has forced the employers into a retreat.

But at this stage this is a ceasefire not yet a surrender. That's why, at a meeting of 260 members, my branch has mandated me to demand that the threat of further strikes must not be withdrawn until we are certain that there are no preconditions placed on this joint working group.

In particular the reference to 'affordability' in this latest proposal is unacceptable - we can't allow the union to tie itself in to the employer's notion of affordability.

My branch is also demanding that we push for a three-year interim period, so there will be no changes until April 2021. That's crucial, because we can't allow this working group to be forced into a rush job - we need a genuinely transparent process from which members can hear regular reports from the UCU representatives involved.

It also gives us time to build a campaign to nationalise the USS pension scheme. That would secure our pensions not just for a couple of years but well into the future.

UCU members have waged an incredible struggle and we've very nearly won a famous victory - but the pressure must stay on. The employers will undoubtedly want to come at us again in the future, so it's crucial we continue to build a fighting and democratic UCU.

But provided we do that then let them come - they'll be taking on a union with a win under our belts, hardened by this struggle and confident we can fight them back again.

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In The Socialist 28 March 2018:

What we think

Antisemitism slurs: latest attempt to derail Corbynism

Socialist Party workplace news

NEU conference 2018: Strike to take on the Tories

UCU: Strike action forces bosses to retreat but keep the pressure on

NHS pay: Reject the Tories' divide and rule offer

British Museum: Carillion workers demand to be brought back in-house

Victimised recycling strikers uncowed as Hull strike wave builds

Liverpool Uni staff set to fight 220 job losses

Aberdeen bus drivers strike against pay cuts

Migrant cleaners win living wage at Mail

Local elections 2018

For Whom the School Bell Tolls: Our kids or the Tories?

Southampton asks "What will you do to stop education cuts?"

Campaign against Newham academies boosted by victories

Save Free School Meals!

Martin Luther King

The life and legacy of Martin Luther King

Socialist Party news and analysis

Grenfell: survivors not rehoused, inquiry not independent, blocks not safe

Walkout from undercover policing inquiry

Social media

Social media - the potential and the limits

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Tories fear youth revolt - fight for our future

Goldsmiths students occupy and protest in support of UCU strikers

Walthamstow Save Our Square protesters thrown out of city hall for demanding a say

Northern Socialist Party conference

North West Socialist Party conference

Building fund appeal

Bristol Socialist Students join Yarlswood demo

May Day greetings: Lend your support to the fight against the bosses

International socialist news and analysis

France: Pressure mounts on Macron government

USA: Huge 'march for our lives' protests

Russia's predictable presidential election


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