Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1073/30259
University strikers walk out for better pay and pensions
Bea Gardner, UCU Southampton branch executive (personal capacity)
The University and College Union (UCU) has announced 14 days of further strike action for universities currently in dispute over pensions, pay and conditions.
The action will start on Thursday 20 February and escalate each week, finishing with a week-long walkout from Monday 9 to Friday 13 March. In total, 74 universities will be taking part, 14 more than in the eight days of action before Christmas.
Before Christmas, 60 institutions, including approximately 42,000 members, took eight consecutive days of strike action, and have been participating in action short of strike since then over pay (and pay inequality), working conditions (casualisation and excessive workloads) and pensions. They will now be joined by more universities and workers taking strike action.
So far, employers have refused to budge from their current below-inflation pay offer of 1.8%. Management claims it is unaffordable to increase pay, but university income, surpluses and reserves have all increased. A victory on pay is the most concrete way of ensuring university management concedes to improving staff conditions and our share of the income.
Like the 2018 strike, members must be willing to reject an inadequate offer. In 2018 the potential sell-out of the pension dispute was halted by members on the ground. One way of preparing members for this is by electing local strike committees to lead the next round of action.
This new round of strike action is a fantastic starting point for a fightback across both further and higher education destroyed by decades of marketisation and austerity.
Donate to the Socialist Party
Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal
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.
- The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
- Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
- When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to click here to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.
- Click here to read our full appeal statement
- Click here for our coronavirus articles and reports
- Click here to join the Socialist Party
In The Socialist 11 February 2020: