Nottingham UCU vote for 15 days of strike action to stop new contracts

Nottingham College 2

UCU members at Nottingham College are in dispute with their management over an attempt to impose new contracts. The new contract involves a pay decrease for some; a removal of key policies and procedures from the contract for all; and an increase of teaching hours. This is to be achieved by simply not having any limit on weekly teaching hours. To make matters even worse, the management have told all staff that they will be dismissed and re-engaged on the new contract if they fail to sign voluntarily.

These bullying tactics are being instigated by a principal who has no experience of Further Education but still feels justified in pocketing a salary in excess of £200,000 per year.

UCU are fighting back. After an unprecedentedly high ballot turnout and ‘Yes’ vote, members took a day of strike action to boycott their annual CPD event, setting up their own alternative Festival outside the college. This was a day that involved the whole city of Nottingham. Members of the trades council, local Labour Party councillors and leading members of sister trade unions all gave their support and there were at least 150 UCU members from the college on the picket lines.

The branch have since met and have unanimously decided to take a rolling programme of 15 days strike action starting in the Autumn term.

It is crucial for all members of UCU, whether they are currently employed in Further or Higher Education, that our friends at Nottingham College win this dispute. The scale of the attacks are so enormous that many of us believe that they represent an existential threat to the college: many staff will simply leave the organisation, as the proposed workload is impossible to manage.

We hope that all UCU members will do whatever they can to support these colleagues.

Railene Barker and Alan Barker

Please send messages of support to Railene Barker

Sandwell College UCU vote to ballot for strike action while support floods in

Solidarity with Dave MurituDave Muritu & Salma Yaqoob 21.09.28

A message from Dave Muritu

At a branch meeting of over 60 members on 10 June, Sandwell College UCU re-elected me as Branch Secretary in my absence.  The branch also overwhelmingly endorsed a move to ballot for industrial action demanding reinstatement.  I am very proud of the strength Sandwell College branch has shown over the years and I am privileged to be elected secretary.  This is a clear message to management that the branch will not stand for victimisation; they will not have the fantastic gains they have achieved rolled back. If they come for one of us they come for all of us.

Please join the national demonstration in West Bromwich on Saturday 22 June 12.30pm for 1pm start.

Please send messages of support to the branch chair, Dom.

Donate to the branch hardship fund:
Sandwell UCU,
Unity Bank, sort: 60-83-01
Account number: 20357623

Solidarity with FE strikes

Rally at Lambeth College


Dear Colleagues

We are asking all members to show solidarity with all branches that are taking strike action on the 20th, 21st and 22nd of March over pay and conditions (see table below).

We are now in our second academic year of our campaign for decent pay and conditions and we are wining. After the 5% pay deal at CCCG Bootle College have settled for a 4-6% deal over three years. Most colleges who have taken action have managed to win significant gains for their members. Those who have not yet succeeded to extract something from their employer’s management have been forced to negotiate.

At a national level our campaign continues to put pressure on the AoC and the government. The recent debate in parliament over funding for FE saw MPs form all sides of the house extol the virtues of FE. Our aim is to pressurise the government to give more funding to FE in the up-coming spending review.

The coverage we have received from the days of action we have taken so far has put the case for more FE funding firmly at the forefront of ministers’ minds.

We call on your branch to send messages of solidarity, to organise collections and visit picket lines. Every act of solidarity makes a huge difference to those who are taking action.

In solidarity

Nita Sanghera, FEC Chair




Abingdon and Witney College


20, 21 & 22 March

Bath College


20, 21 & 22 March

Bradford College


20, 21 & 22 March

Bridgewater and Taunton College


20, 21 & 22 March

City of Wolverhampton College


20, 21 & 22 March

Coventry College

MD066, MD029

(suspended), 20, 21 & 22 March

Croydon College


20, 21 & 22 March

East Sussex College

SO120, SO209

20, 21 & 22 March

Harlow College


20, 21 & 22 March

South Bank College


20,21 & 22 March

New College Swindon


(suspended) 20, 21 & 22 March

West Thames College


18,19,20 March (note change from 20, 21 & 22)



20,21 & 22 March

NCCG (Tower Hamlets College)

Ballot 11 Feb – 1 March likely dates 20,21 & 22 March

Oaklands College

Ballot closes 11 March

Tower Hamlets

20, 21 & 22 March

Warwickshire College Group

Ballot open

York College

Considering balloting

UCU Elections 2019: Vote Jo for Vice President

Vote Jo for UCU National VP for HE

Voting in the Vice President & National Executive Committee elections starts on 1 February and closes on 1 March.

Jo McNeill is the UCU Left candidate for Vice President. Many universities and colleges have already organised hustings, if there isn’t one where you are, please contact Jo to invite her.

To get in touch with Jo and to find out more about her campaign, please see her website.

Our candidates

UCU Left recommends the following candidates for a member-led, democratic and fighting union.

Jo McNeill Paul Anderson Kirsten Forkert Allister McTaggart Deepa Govindarajan Driver Lesley Kane Saira Wieiner cc Marion Hersh Carlo Morelli bb mc Richard McEwan Naina Kent Dave Muritu

More pictures and election leaflets coming soon!

Please click on the candidates’ names to download their election flyers.

joVice President HE

Jo McNeill for Vice President

Paul AndersonHonorary Treasurer

Paul Anderson

Kirsten ForkertMidlands HE

Kirsten Forkert
Nick Hardy

Allister McTaggartMidlands FE

Allister McTaggart

Lesley KaneDeepa Govindarajan DriverSouth HE

Deepa Govindarajan Driver
Lesley Kane
Marian Mayer
Jaya John John

Saira WeinerNorth West HE

Saira Weiner
Anthony O’Hanlon

Carol CodyNorth West FE

Carol Cody

Carlo MorelliMarion HershHonorary Secretary & President UCU Scotland

Marion Hersh
Carlo Morelli

Bruce BakerNorth East HE

Bruce Baker

Carlo MorelliMarion HershMaria ChondrogianniUK-elected members HE

Maria Chondrogianni
Marion Hersh
Carlo Morelli
Jo Grady

Richard McEwanUK-elected members FE

Richard McEwan
Saleem Rashid

Disabled Members HE

Ciara Doyle

Dave MurituNaina KentBlack Members

Naina Kent
Dave Muritu

STV voting system

Please note that all members can vote in the elections for Equality, Casually Employed members’ and Trustees seats

To maximise votes for progressive candidates we ask you to do the following:

  • Please use your votes to first endorse all UCU Left candidates and only after that use lower preferences for other progressive candidates in each relevant list
  • Give your highest preferences in the UK-elected list to UCU Left candidate(s) from your region

Historic deal at CCCG

Congratulations to UCU members at CCCG. This is a brilliant victory by your members. Staff working in FE are among the lowest paid in the education sector. This award, alongside the fractionalisation agreement is an important step in ensuring staff are valued for the vital work they do. Congratulations to the governing body in agreeing this bold and progressive step forward and I hope this signals a change in direction that the whole sector can follow.

In Solidarity

John McDonnell, shadow chancellor


UCU branches met today across the Capital City College Group (CCCG – City and Islington College, Westminster Kingsway College and the College of North East London) and agreed to settle on the 2018/19 pay claim.  After several weeks of negotiations, the governors have agreed a pay offer of 5% to all staff in the group who earn less than £55k. Senior managers that earn between £56k up to £76k will be awarded 3% and those earning £76k+ will not get a pay increase this year.

The CEO has waived his right to an annual bonus.

The 5% award will be back-dated to September and is worth up to £2K pa which works out as up to £140 per month take home and will be put into the December pay packet. This will mean staff should expect up to £600 extra in their December pay packets.

This is an historic deal which will, we hope, give other colleges the confidence to follow. CCCG is the largest group in London and the third largest in the country.

It has been a breath of fresh air working with the new CEO who has a very different approach to industrial relations and a very clear and optimistic vision about how the group can go forward both financially and educationally.  He made clear from the beginning that UCU’s case was ‘irrefutable’. He agreed that reserves could be used to fund a pay award and it was necessary to pay staff a decent wage to motivate existing staff and to attract a future generation to the sector.

He also made a commitment to bring outsourced services back in-house and believes that contracting out such work is losing the group significant revenue.

A 96% vote for strike action with a 63% turnout kicked off our campaign.  Our members braved snowy and rainy picket lines and lobbied the governors with home-made banners, sang their hearts out demanding ‘the money is there we want our share’. We took 8 days of strike action.  What did those eight days of action achieve?

·         Pay: 5% for 2018/19. This is worth £140 extra a month and will be backdated to September and will be in the December pay packets. The CEO has also made clear that the college has an ambition to pay 3% + inflation for the next two years. This agreement we cover all staff working in the group.

·        New fractionalisation policy: all staff working for 3 years or more on 12 hours or more to be placed onto a permanent contract. So far this year 47 staff have been made permanent. The average increase in income for staff that have been fractionalised on to a 0.5 permanent contract is £6k.

·        A £500 one off payment to all staff across the group and after a mass petition campaign management have agreed to look to extend this one-off payment to outsourced staff.

·         Two days of strike action not deducted.

·        Also, UCU after the strike entered into negotiations around creating a new cross college JD/contract for Learning Support Assistants (LSAs). Many LSAs joined the union during the course of the strike.  Whilst they all benefited from the one-off payment and will benefit from the 5% award but because they are on bushiness support or agency contracts did not benefit from the new fractionalisation policy. Negotiations are yet to be completed however positive moves are being made to place all LSAs onto hourly paid and permanent contracts with career development opportunities structured in and fractionalisation.

UCU at CCCG would like to thank all those who supported us through financial and messages of support. Your solidarity made all the difference to our successful fight for justice. We also would like to offer solidarity to the six FE branches that will be striking on the 28th/29th November and all the branches that are re-balloting.

We hope our victory will soon be yours.

 In solidarity

Sean Vernell, CCCG Secretary

Carly Grundle, CCCG Chair

Register Now – Joint National Conference for UCU members – 13th October 2018

Screen Shot 2018-08-23 at 16.45.29

Marketisation is destroying education in our colleges, universities, prisons and the adult education sector. UCU is at a crossroads – how do we get the type of union we need to push back the Tories and the employers in the struggle against marketisation? How can we build and strengthen our union for the fight over pay, pensions and for a progressive post-16 education system?
In the late summer and early autumn, both Further and Higher Education members will ballot over pay. And the USS dispute may restart in earnest if the Joint Expert Panel (JEP) finds the projections of the deficit credible.
Our union has been transformed by strikes. Over 20,000 new members have joined. Branches have grown – in some cases by 50% or more.
All those who care about the future of UCU need to unite and emphasise our needs – for a democratic, fighting union that stands up for its members.

This conference, called by many groups uniting together, is an opportunity for UCU members from across the UK to meet and debate the big questions facing us. Please join us.
Registration from 10.30. Conference starts at 11.00.
Register here
Sessions on :
USS * Precarious workers * Resisting Redundancies * Democracy in the union * Reclaim the curriculum *  Immigration / EU nationals * The money’s there, we want our share – radical accounting * How to Organise Strikes * We Are the University *
Adult Ed/Devolution/Apprenticeships * Victimisation* Activist Pamphlet launch


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London Region UCU has called a lobby of the NEC meeting on Friday from 10:15 to 11 at UCU HQ in Carlow Street, Mornington Crescent, Camden. All branches are welcome to send delegates.

UCU’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meets for the first time since Congress this Friday.

We lost two days of Congress – effectively the whole of the union’s democratic policy-setting opportunity for an entire year – as a result of manoeuvres by sections of the union leadership to avoid criticism for their handling of the HE pension dispute. The furore has raised serious questions among many members regarding the accountability and transparency of our union leadership.

At the #UCUTransformed meeting called by London Region UCU on Saturday 9 June, union reps from across the country met to discuss the crisis. One of the conclusions of that meeting was that UCU needs to resolve this issue promptly and firmly by confirming that all elected representatives, including the General Secretary, are subject to criticism and recall by motions of censure and no confidence. The NEC has to take control of the situation and defend union democracy.

NEC members committed to a democratic member-led union will be meeting outside at that time for an open air meeting and colleagues are welcome to join them.

#UCUTransformed: After Congress… Where Next? National Meeting Report

#UCUtransformed meeting (1 of 1)

On Saturday 9th June, around 80 UCU members, all but one or two of whom attended this year’s congress two weeks ago, came together in London for a meeting to discuss After UCU Congress…where next?

The meeting was called by London Region’s #UCUTransformed, agreed by 130 Congress delegates who met on the evening of the first staff walkout, and was supported by Branch Solidarity Network.

Members came from branches all over the country: universities of Edinburgh, Bournemouth, Leeds and Leeds Beckett, Liverpool, Lancaster, Brighton, York, Kent, Oxford, Cambridge, Hertfordshire, Royal Holloway, SOAS, Imperial, Kings College, Central School of Speech and Drama, City, St Georges, Reading, Queen Mary, London Met, LSBU, Roehampton, Westminster, Writtle University College; colleges of Sheffield Hallam, Bourneville, Epping Forest, Westminster Kingsway, Tower Hamlets, Lewisham Southwark, Lambeth, Hackney, North West London, Redbridge, Croydon, City and Islington; Sutton and Hackney Adult Education; South West Region, London Region and Yorkshire and Humberside Retired Members branches; and Disabled Members and Black Members committees.

The discussion was centred around the fallout of the staff walkouts, the refusal to allow motions 10 & 11 to be heard, the shutting down of congress and how the issue of democracy links to the campaigns on pay, pensions and equality in HE and FE.

There was a wide-ranging and serious debate about how to respond to the aftermath of Congress and was conducted in a calm, thoughtful way as members sought to find a way forward on issues by engaging with each others’ contributions, processing arguments and suggestions and building organically towards some jointly agreed outcomes and proposals.

Key discussions centred around:

  • the importance of intertwining the pay, pensions and Equality campaigns in both sectors with the issue of democracy and who runs our union, which arose from the mass pickets, teach outs, lobbies, marches, strikes committees etc. And that it’s our collective activity that allows democracy to flourish and gives us power to hold the leadership to account
  • getting as many branches a possible to at least support hearing motions 10 & 11, whilst recognising many more will want to call for resignation of the General Secretary,
  • How we overcome the division in the union between the leadership and members

There was general agreement on recognising the importance of challenging the GS and linking the campaign for democracy with the struggles over pay, pensions and Equality and, through this, building new democratic structures from below.

The meeting voted to take forward the following ideas and practical proposals:

–   counter the post-congress emails to all members from Sally Hunt with the majority view held by #OurUCU

–   send a note of condolence to the family of our HE comrade Dr Malcolm Anderson of Cardiff University  

–   collate questions to the GS that we need answers to and publish on the #OurUCU website

–   ask as many branches as possible to pass the model motion calling for motions 10 & 11 to be heard, and to submit to NEC members

–   build the lobby of NEC, called by London Region on Friday 22nd June at 10.30am outside UCU Head Office, Carlow St. “Allow dissent to be heard”

–   demand that we get a GTVO campaign from HQ on HE and FE pay like the one for the USS campaign

–   call for a discussion on having a layer of officials who are elected

–   call a London Briefing on pay

–   organise twinning of branches. More organised with less so, and cross sector

–   ask for an ‘organogram’ of who does what at HQ

–   request for UCU, not Unite, to staff the recall conference

–   request a mechanism for NEC reps to contact, and be contacted by, their constituencies

–   broaden the discussion by speaking to local Trade Union councils and other unions about our disputes

–   find out how we can put motions passed at congress into action

–   explore possibility of changes to motion 10 (Note: technically this can’t be done as the motion is already submitted to congress)

–   get as many branches as possible to register for the Special HE Sector conference (SHESC) on 21st June. The closing date for registrations is 5pm on 13th June. Link to register is here,

–   get as many branches as possible to the FE Pay National Activist meeting on 29th June in Manchester. Details to follow.

The meeting also agreed to hold a further meeting in October which unites all the groupings under one roof – #UCUTransformed, Branch Solidarity Network, UCULeft, #OurUCU etc.

A democratic UCU – defend the right to dissent

A model motion for branches

When passed, please email to a UCULEFT or sympathetic NEC member asking for it to be raised at the next NEC.

A democratic UCU – defend the right to dissent


Branch notes:

  1. The closure of Congress 2018 when delegates repeatedly accepted the advice of the CBC that motions 10 and 11 relating to censure or no confidence of the General Secretary were in order and voted to hear them.
  2. The assertion that the Gen Sec of the union is an employee like all others and that motions 10 and 11 were an attack on staff terms employment rights.
  3. Congress voted for a recall congress to conclude its business.

Branch believes:

  1. As the General Secretary is a unique role among union staff as an elected position, motions 10 and 11 are in order.
  2. We have the right to hold elected officials to account whilst recognising the valuable work of UCU staff.
  3. The Congress rules were broken in closing Congress
  4. The right to dissent is necessary to achieve unity in our union

Branch resolves:

  1. We have confidence in the CBC rulings at Congress 2018 that motions 10 & 11 were in order and the Congress vote to debate the motions at the recall Congress.
  2. Not to let this distract us from organising to defend pay, jobs and conditions.

The two souls of trade unionism: the fight for democratic control of UCU

UCU Congress 2018 Voting

I have attended every UCU Congress since its formation and quite a few NATFHE ones too. But I have never seen anything quite like this one. Delegates witnessed remarkable scenes as staff walked out of Congress in protest at motions that had been placed on the order paper by the Conference Business Committee. One called for the General Secretary’s (GS) resignation (Motion 10) and the other to censure the GS (motion 11). The Chair suspended congress on three occasions.

The staff union, UNITE, argued that the motions should not be on the order paper because the GS is a UNITE member and therefore the motions attack staff members terms and conditions.

Congress was finally brought to a close on the last day after a third walk out by UNITE members when delegates voted for the third time to hear the motions.

After this walkout a national official, whose title is, the Head of Democratic Services, (yep, you couldn’t make it up!), finally announced that congress had ended.

The anger of the majority of delegates was palpable. Members who had given up their holidays, had arranged cover from their work places and organised child care were seething about the quite blatant attempt by the GS and the Senior Management Team (SMT) of UCU to block Congress from debating motions 10 and 11 on grounds of an employment issue.

Congress quite rightly rejected (see statement) the assertion made by some of UCU paid officials, that if Motion 10 and 11 were passed, it would leave other employees of the union vulnerable to similar motions.

This is a complete red herring. The GS is an elected officer of the Union whilst others aren’t.

Delegate after delegate made it clear that they have the upmost respect and praise for the hard work our UCU paid officials do. But they cannot allow UCU elected officers being given a bullet proof vest to shield them from any criticism.

The majority of Congress supported those who argued that it is a fundamental democratic principle of trade unions to be able to hold their democratic elected leaders to account. If Congress had supported the call not to discuss these motions it would have agreed to give the GS a veto over any motions that criticised her.

This is an unsustainable position for any trade union to hold.

What should have happened

Before this intervention by UNITE members of the SMT and the GS most delegates probably would not have supported motion 10. Many HE delegates, whilst unhappy with the GS’s role within the USS dispute, would have more likely voted for the censure motion. They believed that after a 64% to support the GS in suspending action in the USS dispute would members would view delegates support for a motion calling for her resignation as undemocratic.

The GS and the SMT intervention changed this view. The mood changed. Delegate after delegate said ‘I was not going to vote for this motion but I am now.’ The debate was no longer about the censure or resignation of the GS but had become about democratic controlof UCU. Was this held by elected representatives at the sovereign body of UCU or the unelected full-time officials?

Arthur Scargill in 1983 faced a motion of no confidence brought by the right wing within the Miner’s union from the Nottingham area NUM. Scargill responded by touring the country and winning support for his leadership. At the NUM conference that year Scargill defeated the no confidence motion and instead delegates passed a motion of confidence in his leadership!

Why didn’t the GS argue her case or defend her position? It was strange to see the GS on the podium not making one attempt to defend her position or speak to win Congress to oppose the putting of these motions. The only time she did speak was to give her address which did not mention the raging war taking place in Congress.

The return of the rank and file 2

Why did the GS and the SMT of UCU allow the situation to spiral out of control? The simple answer is because for them it was an attempt to reassert the control of the full-time machine over a newly resurgent rank and file within UCU.

At Congress this year a new UCU could be seen. UCU is in transformation after 16,000 new members joined after the magnificent USS dispute and the campaign of 15 FE branches over pay and conditions. Remarkably a motion to support the findings of the Commission into effective industrial action, one of the very view motions that was discussed at Congress, was passed unanimously. At the centre of the commission’s recommendations was the need to put escalating sustained national strike action as the main weapon in UCU’s armoury to defend post 16 education.

In the sector conferences, which went ahead without disruption, both passed motions unanimously to ballot members over this year’s pay claim.

The FE sector conference heard delegates from branches, that have been viewed in the past as not militant, coming forward to explain how their members are up for a fight over pay.

It is this new mood of confidence and militancy that lay at the heart of the split within the union. The GS and the SMT are for more strike action over pay and conditions. It would be wrong to simply characterize this argument as between those who want an organising union against those who want a service based one.

Whilst this may be true of some of the GS supporters in the Independent Broad Left (IBL), it isn’t true of her. The GS recognises the need for national and local collective action to win results. But believes this action must be bureaucratically controlled by the GS and the full-time apparatus and not the rank and file.

The #nocapitulation moment outside UCU HQ when the GS attempted to finish the USS dispute and hundreds lobbied the NEC and thousands across the country held mass meetings organised by newly formed college-based strike committees in response to this attempt, sent the GS and the full-time machine into panic.

The genie of independent action by the rank and file within UCU had been let out of the bottle. It is this that all GSs of trade unions and their full-time staff are most afraid of.

UCU had its second #nocapitulation moment at Congress. It was inspiring to see delegates leap to their feet to argue to stay in the hall and debate how to respond, after the Chair formally suspended Congress business. Observers were elected as tellers, statements were written on the hoof and voted upon and positions formed in an open and democratic way without an official in sight.

Over half the delegates remained in the hall to participate in this new experiment in rank and file democracy. It was bizarre to see a minority of delegates, led by supporters of the IBL, leave the hall and set up a support picket chanting and writing posters in support of ‘paid officials’!

It is this that explains why the GS and the UCU SMT were prepared to go to such lengths to deny Congress to hear these motions.

Pay, pensions conditions and democracy

The question now facing UCU is simple. Does it move forward to fully embrace the 16,000 new members who have brought into UCU a new and dynamic creativity to the union or does the old bureaucratic and top down methods of stifling debate and creativity maintain business as usual?

If the old methods succeed then UCU will go backwards. Thousands of new members will leave and with them any possibility of transforming UCU into a really powerful force that employers are petrified of. This is why we cannot allow this to happen.

If the new democracy from below movement is to be successful it must link itself to the struggles of UCU members. The life blood of rank and file democracy is activity. Without the national action over pay and pensions this life blood will be cut off and passivity will follow.

Every branch in every college and university must meet to pass a motion that supports the sector conferences decision to ballot over pay. The branch should also support the late motion passed at Congress to reaffirm Congress’s right to hold our nationally elected officers to account which means allowing motion 10 and 11 to be debated at a re-call Congress, alongside the other motions that were not discussed.

The statement by the majority delegates and their signatures has gone out on the @OurUCU twitter account.

At a meeting on Wednesday evening, delegates voted to meet this Saturday at a meeting hosted by the London Region of UCU to debate where we go next. Activists should get to that meeting if at all possible so we can co-ordinate the fight for democratic control of our union.

UCU has gone through an incredible year. It has put back on the map for the whole trade union movement that unions can get their members to support national ballots for industrial action and by so doing demonstrate that sustained strike national action is not only possible but can win.

But for trade unions, and UCU in particular, to be able to continue to build on this success then leaderships must allow rank and file voices to be heard – no matter how uncomfortable these voices, on occasion, might be.

Sean Vernell UCU FE vice chair and congress delegate.