After weeks of silence and prevarication, the General Secretary has finally announced the decisions on industrial action taken by the Higher Education Committee (HEC).
We welcome the news that the marking and assessment boycott (MAB) is to be notified to start in January. But at the same time Jo Grady has undermined our unity by publicly declaring her opposition to all-out strike action just one hour before negotiations with the employers began!
Why did HEC take the decisions that it did?
HEC voted for an early marking boycott because, as twenty branches proved in the summer, it is a powerful weapon that needs to be used before our ballot mandate expires. At the time, the GS opposed that decision, telling us that the majority for a MAB at the Branch Delegate Meeting (BDM) was not big enough. We are glad she has changed her mind.
The decision for all-out indefinite strike action was taken because HEC members understand we are in the fight of our lives. We have taken blocks of action before and the employers have dug their heels in and waited it out. Members have watched the post and rail bosses do the same in response to the CWU’s and RMT’s action. The BDM was not allowed to consider all-out action, but this is how we carry out Jo Grady’s promise to ‘shut down the campuses in Semester 2.’
This is not ‘playing in the hands of our employers,’ but taking action that can win. Pacing ourselves by spreading out the action over months will not work in circumstances where the bosses and the Tories are determined to hold the line. The cost-of-living crisis has raised the stakes. If we fail to break through, our employers will have carte blanche not only to continue cutting our pay, but to impose mass sackings and contract changes. The future of our union is at stake.
To win these disputes members need to be in control. They have to know that the union’s leaders are accountable and that the decisions of our elected bodies are not going to be ignored. We need strike committees in every institution with delegates empowered to make decisions on our disputes at a UK-wide level.
UCU Left members were among the majority at HEC that voted for a January marking boycott followed by all-out indefinite action. We were right to do so. We have a powerful mandate for action. We can’t afford to waste it.
If you support action that can win, vote for UCU Left candidates in the forthcoming NEC elections.