England, Wales and Scotland section of International Socialist Alternative

UCU strike: All out to defend pay, conditions and pensions!

University workers have achieved a massive result on the last strike ballot. The Tories’ undemocratic antitrade union thresholds have been smashed, making UCU the biggest union to do so, as part of a historic strike wave that is developing in the face of rising living costs.

Going forwards, it is clear it will take a massive shift for our employers to make significant concessions on our demands. Although the employers’ body, UCEA, have indicated they are willing to enter talks on pay and conditions, we need enormous pressure to achieve a win that will go anywhere towards mitigating
the decade of real terms pay cuts we have endured. This decline in pay has been combined with the driving down of our working conditions, so we need to step up our fights on casualisation, pay equality and workload. On USS pensions, the devastating cuts to the scheme cannot be justified and trustees have recently confirmed their reversal would still leave the scheme in surplus.

So the fightback needs to be serious and significant. UCU members in Socialist Alternative have raised the idea of building for indefinite strike action early in the new year, led by members on the ground to make the action as effective as possible. There needs to be a strategic plan for the whole of the rest of the academic year, with action to match the weight of our demands. This should include plans for a marking boycott of assessments, including the legally necessary reballot to cover the summer period, and also ways to include non-teaching staff in order to make sure every member can be involved and maximise their leverage in a coordinated way.

Any attempts by bosses to deduct full pay for partial performance must be met with the utmost resistance. Resources should also be put into an extensive recruitment drive, particularly targeted at areas where we have lower density. Finally, efforts should be renewed to achieve coordinated action with the other campus trade unions and with other groups of workers more generally.

A general strike to bring down this weak and divided Tory government is becoming all the more urgent but also more possible. University workers are well placed to make the necessary links between striking workers to help initiate local strike committees and build the vital steps

We say:

  • For a bold strategy to win – including a plan of escalation into the new year!
  • Coordinate the action! Make links with other unions on and off campus to build the widest strike movement possible
  • For a general strike to topple the Tories and win a real pay rise for all workers!


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