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From The Socialist newspaper, 13 March 2014

Unison higher education - fighting leadership needed

Socialist Party delegates

Unison's Higher Education (HE) conference has, over recent years, been a small but significant opportunity to observe the growth of the mood to fight back against austerity attacks in the HE sector.

This year's conference came after three individual national strikes over pay alongside UCU and other HE unions.

But to the bemusement of many delegates, the Standing Orders Committee (SOC) decided that motions over pay, including those submitted as emergency motions, were best left at the bottom of the agenda.

There was a real possibility that in a one-day conference, the debate would not take place.

As the day wore on and delegates' frustration grew, the conference chair finally overruled the SOC, and allowed the six motions on pay to be moved.

The debate was passionate, with many speakers on the left arguing for continued action, hopefully alongside the teachers at the end of March.

We called for a clear and determined strategy to win the dispute, rather than a 'one day and see what happens' approach.

The more conservative branch leaderships and some Service Group Executive (SGE) members wanted a period of consultation with members.

This was a thinly disguised attempt to prevent any action taking place for the foreseeable future and potentially derail the dispute.

In the end, the vote was narrowly lost against the left. Activists will now return to their branches, fully supporting the UCU marking ban due to start at the end of April, but knowing that action on our part is off the agenda for the next few months at least.

But the strike reinvigorated many branches. Many reported an increase in members and activists, with many young people joining and striking for the first time.

The SGE elections taking place in May will be the next opportunity to increase the influence of the left on the SGE, as Unison members recognise the need for a fighting leadership armed with a clear and determined strategy to win.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

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 13 March 2014:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Bob Crow - A great fighter for the working class

Stop the destruction of care in Britain

NHS - under attack from private vultures

Police spy inquiry must not be another whitewash

Stop cuts and police repression in Tottenham!

Them & Us


Socialist Party congress

Preparing for a mighty upsurge in class struggle


Socialist Party workplace news

Solidarity with Doncaster care strikers

PCS: Building a fighting union leadership

Lawyers walk out to defend legal aid

Probation workers to strike again

Labour council removes trade union facilities

Unison higher education - fighting leadership needed

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Campaigning on International Women's Day

Second Maltby councillor for TUSC

Turkey solidarity protest

Anti-fracking campaign steps up in Lancashire


Readers' comments

The horror that was World War One


 

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Related links:

Unison:

triangleHugo Pierre for Unison general secretary

triangleTower Hamlets council workers strike against wholesale attack on terms and conditions

triangleTrade union activists from across the south of England discuss the battle for safety on the frontline

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triangleBig Unison south east regional meeting votes for anti-cuts position

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trianglePay full fees for virtual courses? - No way!

triangleStudents and workers out together on Budget Day, 11 March

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