UCU

Sixty Universities out from 25 November

Published on: Wed, 06/11/2019 - 11:23
Author

UCU member

Members of the University and Colleges Union (UCU) will strike at 60 universities between 25 November and 4 December, over pay and conditions, pensions, and both.

The dispute over the USS pension scheme that shut down many pre-92 universities in 2018 remains unresolved. While employers have backed away from entirely closing the defined benefit scheme, employee contributions have risen to 9.6% from 6.35% ten years ago and 8% when the current Career Average scheme was introduced. Jane Hutton, a statistics professor who raised concerns about the governance of USS, has been sacked from its board

Strikes at Virgin, West Midlands, South Western Railway

Published on: Wed, 06/11/2019 - 07:39
Author

Ollie Moore and Jay Dawkey

Rail union RMT has called strikes on Virgin Trains, West Midlands Trains, and South Western Railway (SWR).

On the latter, the union has named a calendar of strikes throughout November and December, which will see walkouts on 16, 23, and 30 November, and 7, 14, 21, and 28 December. West Midlands Trains is the latest Train Operating Company to see its workers plan industrial action over the imposition of Driver Only Operation (DOO).

On Virgin Trains, train managers, a grade of customer-facing train crew, on the West Coast franchise will strike on 19 November to demand the reinstatement of an

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 11/09/2019 - 07:39
Author

Ollie Moore, Jay Dawkey, Cath Fletcher and David Pendletone

UCU ballot opens

University staff belonging to UCU are being balloted for strike action this autumn over pay equality, job security, workload and pay deflation.

Working conditions in higher education have been deteriorating. The gender pay gap is over 15%; over 100,000 staff across the sector are on fixed-term contracts; academic staff work over 50 hours in a typical week; and in the past ten years pay has declined by 20% in real terms.

In 2018 an impressive strike forced pre-92 universities to back down on massive pension cuts, but since then employers have refused to compromise and now they

Robert Fine and the critique of antisemitism

Published on: Wed, 03/07/2019 - 11:16
Author

Dan Davison

Robert Fine, who died on 9 June 2018, was a socialist writer unafraid to stand up to much of the left’s received wisdom on the questions of Israel, Palestine, and antisemitism.

He opposed the “absolute anti-Zionist” standpoint that one should unreservedly object to (a) Israel’s very existence, rather than the oppressive practices of the Israeli state, and (b) any feelings of Jewish communal or national identification with Israel, even when such feelings are accompanied with harsh condemnation of the Israeli government or genuine horror at the Palestinians’ suffering.

Fine opposed the blanket

Fat cat college threatens to sink pension scheme

Published on: Thu, 20/06/2019 - 08:35

Trinity College, the richest college at the University of Cambridge (net worth £1.5bn), recently took the decision to remove itself from the USS pension agreement — the same agreement that saw 2018’s mass industrial action on dozens of university campuses.

This verdict, taken based on flawed financial grounds and with disregard to the wider education sector, puts at greater risk the pensions of over 400,000 university workers across the UK, and is already leading other universities to re-consider their long-term commitment to the scheme.

University and College Union members in Cambridge

Left wins in UCU

Published on: Wed, 29/05/2019 - 07:46

Jo Grady, Senior Lecturer in Employment Relations at the University of Sheffield and Pensions Officer of Sheffield UCU, has been elected General Secretary of the University and College Union (UCU). Grady won on a landslide, picking up 48.7% of the vote in the first round and then 64% in the second round.

Electoral turnout was 20.5%, a marked improvement over the 13.7% turnout of the 2017 election. Grady came far ahead of her two electoral opponents, each of whom represented an established faction in UCU. Jo McNeill, the candidate for UCU Left (the bureaucratic left faction in which the

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 30/01/2019 - 10:18
Author

Jay Dawkey

Since 15 January, Higher Education (HE) members of the University and College Union (UCU) have been voting in the pay and equality ballot. The ballot covers 143 universities and will close on 22 February.

In last term’s ballots (counted university by university) on this same issue, most UCU branches failed to meet the 50% turnout requirement imposed by the Trade Union Act 2016. This time, the ballot is aggregated, so all results will be counted together.

Although UCU activists are working energetically to get the vote out, members face considerable difficulties meeting the turnout

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 12/12/2018 - 12:28
Author

Ann Field and Ollie Moore

Station staff on London Underground’s Bakerloo Line South Group, which includes Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus, Charing Cross, Lambeth North, and Elephant and Castle, have voted by 88% for strikes against short-staffing. Tube union RMT has announced strikes for 26 December and 14 January.

RMT has also declared victory in the “battle of Baker Street”, after London Underground reinstated an unjustly sacked station worker, and trumped-up disciplinary charges against another were dropped. Tube bosses were forced to back down after 41 out of 61 workers balloted at the station voted for strikes

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 07/11/2018 - 11:30
Author

Clara Bennett, Ruth Cashman and Ollie Moore

Security staff at the University of Leicester are currently in dispute with management, who wish to cut their working week to 35 from 37 hours, with the loss of two hours’ pay. Effectively this works out to be about £800 per year. A large sum for relatively low paid workers but a tiny sum for the university, especially when the team they are targeting is very small.

A consultative ballot was held last week where 100% turnout achieved 100% in favour of industrial action. This, from the 100% unionised team, should send a very clear message to the bosses that a cut in wages will not be

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 24/10/2018 - 12:04
Author

Ann Field

GMB and Unison picket lines covered Glasgow on Tuesday 23 and Wednesday 24 October in a two-day strike by City Council employees.

A lunchtime demonstration on the first day of the strike also saw four thousand people march through Glasgow to a rally in front of the City Chambers.

It was the biggest strike for equal pay in British history. The target was years of pay discrimination against City Council women employees, resulting from the Workforce Pay and Benefits Review (WPBR) which was introduced and defended by successive Labour administrations

The then Labour-controlled Council rejected

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