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From The Socialist newspaper, 11 September 2019

UCU ballots - yes to strike action on pensions, pay, workloads and equality

Sheffield university UCU and students voted No deal and to keep the strike going, 13.3.18, photo Alistair Tice

Sheffield university UCU and students voted No deal and to keep the strike going, 13.3.18, photo Alistair Tice   (Click to enlarge)

Lucy Riglin, UCU Cardiff University rep (personal capacity)

University staff in the University and College Union (UCU) are currently voting on strike action - this time in two ballots. The ballots close on 30 October.

One vote will be about pensions, to which we currently contribute 8.8% of our salaries. Last year's pensions strike forced our employers to set up a panel to investigate the situation, but now it looks like they're going to ignore this and try to make staff pay more (9.6%) for our current pension. This shows that the bosses can't be trusted, and that sustained struggle is needed.

The second vote is about pay-related issues. Staff voted on this earlier this year. But although almost 70% voted for strike action in England, Scotland and Wales we missed the Tory government-imposed 50% turnout threshold, getting 41% in the ballot.

The vote covers a range of issues, including addressing gender and ethnicity pay gaps, reducing zero-hour and hourly paid positions and reducing excessive and unsafe workloads. Pay has fallen by 21% in real terms over the last decade.

It's important that these ballots draw in all UCU members, as some will be more affected by some issues than others.

For example, a lecturer near retirement might be particularly worried about their pension, whereas a newer lecturer who is only guaranteed a small number of hours' work a term might be more angry about zero-hour-like contracts.

Most staff members are stressed by their workload: it's estimated that on average staff in higher and further education work more than two days unpaid each week. Like with all employers, unpaid overtime is a way for universities to save money by not hiring the extra staff they need.

It's important that the union builds a fighting organisation to unite all of its members behind resisting these attacks to their pay and working conditions. It's also important that students support this struggle, as many did previously, as overworked staff will negatively impact on quality education.

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In The Socialist 11 September 2019:


International socialist news and analysis

Far right makes gains in Germany

South Africa: Xenophobic violence - a product of failed capitalist policies

West Papuans demand self-determination in London


What we think

Tories in tatters: Corbyn must seize the time


Opinion

Capitalist 'democracy' v socialist democracy


Workplace news

TUC: Lost opportunity to organise a united struggle

NSSN lobby of TUC: Upbeat meeting calls for trade union lead to boot out Tories

Fighting PCS general secretary needed - Marion Lloyd: Why I am standing

End austerity in the civil service: General election now

PCS strike at BEIS: "The life we live is not liveable"

Unions must fight to make bus drivers and passengers safe

Asda workers protest against worse contract

UCU ballots - yes to strike action on pensions, pay, workloads and equality

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Students and workers unite against fees, low pay climate change

Tory meltdown - Organise to finish them off

Another London block of flats destroyed by fire - remove unsafe cladding now!

Leeds pensioners occupy BBC to save free TV licenses

Frimley hospital staff fight back-door privatisation

Leicester Kashmir protest rejects religious smokescreen

Salisbury welcomes Socialist campaigners

Socialist newspaper sales round-up

Coventry: 100 pack meeting against congestion charge

Climate strikes: trade union round-up


Scotland

Scotland and Brexit: Developing threat to the capitalist union


 

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