Build the strikes but push for action that can win quickly
University employers have now been notified of seventeen further strike dates following next Wednesday’s walkout when we will strike and march alongside NEU, PCS, ASLEF and RMT members.
The dates are 9th, 10th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 27th, 28th February, and 1st 2nd, 16th, 17th, 20th, 21st, 22nd March.
This isn’t the all-out action that many in the union wanted to see, but it’s important that the dates are out. It is action on a scale that will worry our employers and will seriously disrupt Semester 2 in every UK institution in the UK.
In every branch we need to be preparing to make this action as strong as possible. We need to be rebuffing the inevitable management attempts to bully and intimidate our members into not taking action. We need to be forging links with other trade unionists in our localities so that even when we are not out on the same days, we are visiting their picket lines and inviting them to our picket lines and rallies.
We need to reach out to the current cohorts of students, explaining that we are fighting for the future of Higher Education and against a Tory-manufactured cost-of-living crisis that is hitting students as well as staff.
We need to put in place strike local committees that meet regularly to ensure that our action is controlled by rank-and-file members and benefits from their initiative and creativity. We will need this energy and organisation as we set out to win another ballot mandate during the coming weeks to show the employers that their attempts to outlast our action will fail.
All of this will crank up the pressure on our employers and make them realise that we will not accept the continuous erosion of our pay, the trashing of our pensions, permanent job insecurity, inequality and overwork.
But we also need to agitate within our union for the action we need to win. Head Office needs to listen to branches about the problem of calling action during reading weeks. There’s still time to allow branches to move strikes that fall in their reading week to other days to ensure it has maximum impact.
It is also a problem that 15th March – budget day – is not one of the dates. The Higher Education Committee voted for this date to be included because it promises to be the biggest joint strike day for a generation. UCU should be part of that action, participating in a monster demonstration in London demanding an end to pay cuts, no to austerity and Tories out!
We may also need to revisit the issue of indefinite action. Make sure your branch passes the motion below calling for a Special HE Sector Conference so that we can come together and democratically decide our industrial strategy in light of events.
And don’t forget to encourage your colleagues to vote for UCU Left candidates in the Vice President, Treasurer and NEC elections which open on Thursday 26th February. We need an NEC with the will to see our fight through to victory.
Motion for a Special HE Sector Conference
This branch calls under Rule 16.11 for a Special Higher Education Sector Conference to be called to debate and direct the future of our disputes. Notice for this SHESC should be issued as soon as the number of branches requesting it reaches twenty.