Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1010/27967
University pay ballot: vote yes for strike action!
Unison higher education member
The vast majority of union members at virtually all universities across the UK are being balloted for strike action over pay.
Members of the two largest campus unions, UCU and Unison, are being asked to reject the "final" offer of 2% or £425, since it falls far short of inflation and does nothing to address the real-term cuts in pay which lecturers, administrators, technicians, caretakers and cleaners have put up with for over a decade.
These national, coordinated ballots represent a real opportunity to show vice-chancellors that higher education workers, alongside students, have had enough.
Changes to university funding have created current and future impoverishment for a generation of young people, while universities at all levels are increasingly having to compete with each other for students, often in races to build the shiniest new buildings (see Leicester UCU article below).
This creeping marketisation is pushing universities to outsource services, dismantle pension schemes and exploit an increasingly casualised workforce. Vice-chancellors, meanwhile, are busy enriching themselves and their mates.
UCU is building on its dramatic success in the universities' pension battle, which taught many activists valuable lessons about how a dispute can be fought.
Unison is balloting on an aggregate basis, which means that a turnout of at least 50% is required across all the members balloted to allow legal strike action.
This approach represents a massive risk, particularly given the mixed strength of Unison's activist base across university branches and the obstacles placed in the way of activists by Tory anti-trade union legislation.
However, getting the vote out is possible if branches make a concerted effort to explain the issues to members.
Unison nationally needs to put resources and effort into delivering the turnout along with a confident yes vote, building on the support of students for workers fighting back.
In turn, we need to show that organised higher education workers support an end to tuition fees and stand for a fully funded and free education system at all levels.
Building unity between students and higher education workers, as shown by the UCU pensions dispute, is key to winning this battle.
- UCU and Unison's ballots close on 19 and 25 October respectively
In The Socialist 19 September 2018:
Labour Party conference
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Workplace news and analysis
Socialist Party reports and campaigns