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From The Socialist newspaper, 14 October 2020

University workers ballot for action against in-person teaching

  (Click to enlarge)

Bea Gardner, Southampton University and College Union (personal capacity)

University workers are escalating disputes over unsafe campus reopening plans as cases soar in university cities.

The University and College Union's (UCU) position is that all teaching should be online as the default until the 'five tests' are met, including a comprehensive plan of testing and a reduction in overall infection rates.

On 30 September, a higher education sector conference for the UCU voted overwhelmingly in favour of balloting for industrial action at institutions which continue to enforce in-person teaching.

Since the conference, UCU branches in Leeds, Birmingham and Warwick have all entered formal disputes over unsafe conditions and are preparing to ballot for strike action.

At Northumbria University, where over 770 students have tested positive for Covid-19, the decision of UCU members to ballot for industrial action was enough to push management to move all teaching online, having previously refused. Other branches which have entered into disputes have had a similar response, with online-only teaching now the default at all Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle universities.

However, while the move to online teaching is an important step forward to ensure the immediate health and safety of university staff and students, it is not a long-term solution. It also does not resolve the appalling situation of student accommodation outbreaks, where students are now trapped.

Up until now, campus trade unions have been systematically blocked from critical decision-making meetings regarding return plans. The escalated actions show that management can be forced to change their approach. Campus trade unions, in conjunction with students, must now organise for the necessary resources and democratic oversight to make universities safe.

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The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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In The Socialist 14 October 2020:


Coronavirus news

Locked down, hard up, fight back!

As school cases soar - is contact tracing 'near breaking point'?

Even more delay in stopping school transmission?

National Education Union must launch action now

Nottingham Covid surge caused by Tory mismanagement

Under the microscope


Students

Students not to blame for unsafe uni conditions

"It's not fair" - lockdown students demand free education

Students speak out: isolation and uncertainty reign

Building a movement to fight for free education


What we think

Unite votes to cut affiliation fee to Labour


Workplace news

Usdaw elections: the battle for a fighting union

NEU Special Conference: A fight for safety in schools is urgently needed

Napo AGM 2020: Celebrating probation victory and preparing for challenges ahead

University workers ballot for action against in-person teaching

Stop Royal Mail's profit-driven plans to force postal workers to share vans

Unison: The Socialist is backing Hugo Pierre - for a fighting socialist general secretary!


Co-ops

Are cooperatives the answer to a failing capitalist system?


Campaigns

Stop NHS meltdown

Transport for London funding crunch

Oliver Campbell - Still fighting for justice

Fighting Fund - we're off to a good start


Obituary

Obituary: Raph Parkinson 1958-2020


International news

Greek workers and socialists celebrate convictions of Golden Dawn fascists

Nigeria: Mass protests force government to disband killer cop unit


Readers' opinion

Non-fiction: This Land - the story of a movement

The Socialist Inbox


 

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