UCU – A union transformed

 

A UK-wide activists’ assembly and organising school#UCUTransformed

Saturday 28 April, 10.30-5pm

Statement from final session

The 14 days of strike action against the attack on USS and the thousands of new members who have joined UCU show the massive potential for action to transform our union. The same process of transformation seen in USS HE branches is under way in FE, which have had a wave of strikes over pay and conditions, and in post 92 universities, illustrated by the recent disputes at Brighton University and LMU. However, we are deeply concerned about the opaque and undemocratic behaviour of the UCU leadership.

The imagination and enthusiasm shown by UCU members has been inspiring. We have seen expansion and participation at branch level. But this process has been uneven. We face an urgent task to maintain our numbers and develop the democratic control of our union, and our disputes, by our members.

We need to use the energy of recent disputes to continue the fight on pensions, but also to open up new fronts on equal pay, and put equality, disability, discrimination and casualisation – in its different forms – at the heart of the union.

The USS dispute has shown that a new generation of activists, including student activists, can be won to our union. It is vital we maintain the momentum and ensure it truly represents our members. The union must support members in developing alternative proposals to set against destructive management agendas of cuts, redundancies and punitive performance management.

We need to develop a genuine network of solidarity amongst branches. No UCU branch should fight alone. We support the establishment of a UCU solidarity network, and agree to meet again as a national group in the autumn term.

Resources

Event details
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The USS ballot is over, but the dispute isn’t. We need to recognise the solidarities our dispute created and cemented, rise to the challenge of building on these solidarities, fighting for collective interests, and build the alternative university many of us got a chance to experience or envisage during the dispute. Come join us and be part of that conversation. – Jo Grady, University of Sheffield

Hosted by London Region UCU. Supported by UCU branches at Liverpool University, Dundee University, Goldsmiths College, Newcastle University, King’s College London, University College London, University of Brighton, Sandwell College, City and Islington College and Lambeth College… and more.

 

Timetable

10.30am-11.00am Registration
11.00am-12.15pm Workshops
i) Moving into Action: Campaigning to GTVO and organising strikes
Jim Wolfreys (King’s), Westminster Kingsway speaker
ii) #NoCapitulation: Using social media
Jana Bacevic (Cambridge), Rhiannon Lockley (Halesowen)
iii) Democratising the union: putting members at the centre of change
Jo Grady (Sheffield), Carlo Morelli (Dundee)
iv) Reclaiming our Colleges: Students and workers organising together
Sean Wallis (UCL), Feyzi Ismail (SOAS)
12.30pm-2.00pm HE open session: The USS pension dispute – reclaiming our Universities – (fighting to win) * Activist Guide * Ten points
Marion Hersh (Glasgow), Dennis Leech (Warwick), Sam Marsh (Sheffield), Carlo Morelli (Dundee)
FE open session: Pay and conditions in FE: Coordinating to win
Nita Sanghera (Bournville), Sean Vernell (City & Islington)
2.00pm-2.30pm Lunch
2.30pm-3.45pm Workshops
i) Building solidarity across the labour and trade union movement
Hull, Bradford and Liverpool speakers
ii) Equality Through and Through: Integrating equality demands in our industrial campaigns
Manali Desai (Cambridge), Dave Muritu (Sandwell)
iii) At the Heart of the Union: casualised workers in industrial action
Amy Jowett (Hackney ACE), Sai Englert (SOAS)
iv) An Injury to One… Defending international workers and students (fighting racism on campus)
Ioanna Ioannou (UCL)
3:45pm-5.00pm Closing session: Organising to win – building a democratic, campaigning union
Mandy Brown (Lambeth), Nita Sanghera (Bournville) and others tbc

UCU – A union transformed
– building a fighting union

A UK-wide activists’ assembly and organising school with practical sessions and discussion

The strike action taken by UCU members in HE in defence of USS pensions has been inspirational. Some 40,000 lecturers, academic related staff, researchers and support staff have struck across 64 institutions. In the first week of the strike 3,200 people joined UCU. Many of these new members are BAME, women and young members starting out their careers.

In FE 15 colleges are involved in a campaign of escalating strike action in defence of their pay and conditions. There are another 146 branches that have submitted 168 claims to their employers that could form a second wave of action. This is 50% of all FE bargaining units across the UK. The claims range from, pay, casualisation, equal pay and workloads.

UCU is in transformation.

This UCU UK–wide activist assembly, hosted by London Region UCU, invites all branches that want to be a part of developing a new campaigning UCU to come to the school. Each session will be led off by UCU members who have been on the front-line of this transformation; building the strike votes and picket lines, developing imaginative social media campaigns and creative campaigning strategies. Each workshop will be looking at ways that women, BAME, LGBT+ and disabled members can ensure that their concerns are central in shaping the union.

Equality issues have to be at the heart of a fighting UCU.

If you are in a branch that is about to enter into a dispute or in a branch that hasn’t yet been energised by the recent campaigning activity around USS and FE pay come along and be a part of the event.

**There will be a collection for a hardship fund on the day to help towards the cost of the fare for those who have travelled from outside London to get the meeting**

It is very likely that we have not seen the end of industrial action in this dispute over the future of the USS. While we must ensure that the terms of reference and appointments to the Joint Expert Panel are agreed transparently and without mission-creep, it is also precisely the right time to discuss the democratic structures of UCU to ensure that we are in the strongest possible position to robustly defend our pension in six months’ time, should we need to do so. – Sam Marsh, University of Sheffield.
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Education Demo #2, 14 March

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Rally and Strike Meeting in Westminster Central Hall from 2pm

Confirmed speakers to include:

  • Joanna De Groot, UCU President
  • John McDonnell MP
  • Catherine West MP
  • Sean Wallis, UCU NEC and HE Convention
  • Chair: Rachel Cohen, UCU NEC

Following a very successful demonstration on February 28th, when 5,000 staff and students in Further and Higher Education marched, London Region UCU has called a second demonstration to Parliament within the fourth week of USS strikes.

Education is under a massive attack. Tuition fees for university have gone through the roof and colleges are in frantic competition with each other to recruit students.

Now the employers want to wreck the pensions of Higher Education staff. Workers ranging from senior academics to postgraduate teaching assistants have begun a programme of an initial 14 days of strike action, closing 65 universities across the UK. We have seen massive pickets on our campuses, and the overwhelming support of students.

16 colleges of Further Education are also in dispute in defence of their pay and conditions. Further Education has lost 15,000 jobs, and one million adult education places, and lecturers have seen their wages cut by 21% since 2009.

We welcome delegations and support from outside London and from across the student and trade union movement. You can get in touch by email or by leaving a comment on our website.
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Demo route

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