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 threshold. 68.9% of all members who voted in the previous ballot were in favour of strike action, but it is a fact that many UCU members do not want us to go on strike. Worse, they know that, because of the 50% turnout threshold, it is easier for them to prevent their own union from striking by not participating in the ballot than by voting “No”. Activists are campaigning for “Yes” to strike action and to action short of a strike!
FE fightback underway
UCU members at 15 Further Education colleges are striking over pay on the last days of January. This new wave of industrial action follows the strikes at six colleges last November. College staff pay has fallen by 25% over the last ten years, and the pay gap between teachers in colleges and schools currently stands at £7,000. The 1% pay rise offered by the Association of Colleges (AoC) is nothing short of insulting.
Last November, staff at the three London colleges that make up the Capital City College Group (CCCG) voted to accept a new pay deal worth 5%. Yet, after the industrial strength shown by UCU members in Higher Education (HE) during the 14-day pensions strike, the union is slipping back into its routine of two-day strikes. It will probably take more to bring the bosses to the table with a better deal.
Tube cleaners win on job cuts
A planned campaign by Tube union RMT has staved off the threat of massive job cuts to London Underground cleaners.
Cleaning contractor ABM had previously announced its intention to cut around 700 posts. After RMT launched a campaign of workplace and depot visits, and planned a demonstration and Parliamentary rally on 29 January, ABM have reinstated 550 of the jobs.
The union says it will use the momentum of the victory to continue fighting the remaining 150 job cuts.