The role of the UCU Left in the effort to shut down the UK lecturers strike


The role of the UCU Left in the effort to shut down the UK lecturers strike

Robert Stevens

17 March 2018

Friday was the last of 14 days of strike action by UK lecturers and other academic workers, fighting against the destruction of their pension rights.

The last four weeks of a bitter dispute only continued because on Tuesday thousands of strikers voted overwhelmingly in impromptu meetings against a sell-out deal engineered Monday evening between the University and College Union (UCU) and the employers’ body, Universities UK (UUK).

The union and management had worked out the precise steps for ending the strike. But as union delegates from 65 higher education institutions met in the London HQ to vote on the agreement, hundreds of angry lecturers surrounded the building. Speaking to the angry strikers outside the HQ, UCU leader Sally Hunt was constantly heckled, with one worker pointing at her stating, “You are now objectively on the side of the employers!” See video here .

Having been thwarted in its plans, the UCU will use the next weeks to complete its betrayal. It immediately appealed to UUK for “urgent talks,” “to try and find a way to get this dispute resolved.” No more strikes are planned until a further 14 days, sometime in May during the exam period.

The UCU is not an organisation that represents its members, but—as the striker in London correctly stated—one that fights in the interest of the employers. It will continue to plot behind the scenes to finalise a “compromise” that cleaves as close as possible to the demands of management.

The only action the UCU has sanctioned in the next period is two-day strikes over pay at just 12 further education colleges, out of 319 colleges nationally. Eleven of these colleges are based in London,…

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