Branches want more action than the General Secretary is offering

In recent days there has been an unprecedented level of debate and discussion in our union about the next steps in our disputes. 

Once again we stand in awe at the commitment and energy of our members on campuses across Britain. 

Sadly, our General Secretary Jo Grady has not started out in these debates from that unbelievable commitment, or from what action can win, but from the most negative of perspectives.

The Twitter debate ahead of the Branch Delegates Meeting (BDM) was peppered with legal ‘advice’ opposing action and fear-mongering about hardship, rather than articulating a strategy to raise support and solidarity to boost the hardship fund and to help reassure precarious members. 

But despite all the undermining of the democratic processes in UCU, the fact that 31% of the BDM voted for all-out indefinite strike action is remarkable.

From motions sent by branches to members of the Higher Education Committee (HEC), if the General Secretary had allowed the option of 4-day discontinuous indefinite action to be put to the BDM it is very likely to have won a majority. 

The fact that a January marking and assessment boycott was voted down was hardly surprising when officials have left notification so late in the day that action can no longer really hit home in many institutions. 

It’s absolutely crucial that the HEC doesn’t buckle under the General Secretary’s attempts to claim ‘victory’ for her strategy from such a rigged process. To gain support for it, she even felt compelled to describe her proposal as ‘escalating action’, when it is nothing of the sort. 

Whether they backed indefinite or escalating strikes, it is clear that the vast majority of branches support more intensive action than the General Secretary is proposing.

And no wonder. Our members are really suffering amidst the cost of living crisis, and know after years of experience that limited periods of strikes will simply not work.

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