Time to re-boot our disputes

After the imposed ‘pause’ in our strike action, UCU members are back on the picket lines from Wednesday next week. 

We start our action alongside hundreds of thousands of NEU teachers, PCS civil servants, BMA Junior doctors and ASLEF and RMT railworkers on London Underground.

UCU members will participate in the massive demonstration in central London on Budget Day, while the following day, 16 March, hundreds of thousands of NEU members will be out on strike with us again. 

With a reballot well underway and with a marking assessment on the horizon we need to plan how we can get our disputes back on track. 

The talks at ACAS are yet to produce a serious offer on any of the concrete issues in the Four Fights dispute, and despite lots of hopeful noises we have not seen a tangible breakthrough over USS. 

That’s why Jo Grady’s decision to pause action without reference to members was so unfortunate. It’s part of a pattern that has seen action by the CWU and RMT halted without any appearance of a breakthrough. 

We will not achieve progress by relying on goodwill gestures or promises of jam tomorrow.

That means that we need to use the coming strike days to rebuild members’ confidence in the dispute and to reactivate the strike committees on campus that can involve the bulk of members in activity and decision-making.

We also have to be alive to any further possibility that ACAS talks will be followed by unilateral decisions to call off action by the General Secretary, despite the HEC’s clear vote that only democratically elected bodies have the right to call action off. The fact that several branches have voted to censure the General Secretary shows the depth of feeling on this issue. 

Over the coming week we need to coordinate with other groups of striking workers for 15 and 16 March. We must aim to get big delegations of UCU members to the London demonstration and organise joint activity. 

Now that a Special HE Sector Conference has been called on 19th April, branches to debate strategy for maximising the impact of a marking and assessment boycott and how respond to the inevitable threat of punitive deductions. We need to work to link local strike committees into a national body capable of democratically controlling our dispute. We need concrete strategy motions submitted from branches on the SHESC agenda, and we should not be shy about telling the General Secretary through censure and other motions that this union is run by its members and it is they who must call the shots. 

To start the debate, come to tonight’s UCU Solidarity Movement meeting –
Rebuild the Action: All Out on 15th March! 
 Register here bit.ly/Solidarity9March

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