NSSN 379: UCU lecturers strike back on pensions and pay!

February 27, 2018 in Bulletins

 

UCU

The National Shop Stewards Network is fully backing University and College Union (UCU) members in 61 universities who are taking strike action to defend their USS pension rights. This Wednesday they will be joined by UCU members at 15 colleges in Further Education, starting action on pay. All this action shows the potential for co-ordinated strikes across the public sector on pay and any attacks on pension rights.

NSSN supporting UCU picket at UCL

NSSN supporting UCU picket at UCL

Sam Morecroft, one of our supporters in UCU from Sheffield has written this report:

“‘University chiefs split as strikes cause chaos!’ read the front page of last Friday’s Times front page. They weren’t wrong – by the end of the day, after just two days of our planned 14 day strike program, the list of Vice Chancellors publicly calling for talks to resume on pensions has grown to 18. Some went so far as to publicly criticise the plans to scrap defined benefit pensions, with Chris Day, VC of Newcastle University even saying in a statement “I absolutely support staff’s decision to strike – I’m not sure what else they can do.”

Our fight to defend pensions has seen a magnificent response from members, and we’ve gained support from across the student movement – now we’re getting support from the employers themselves! Universities UK didn’t expect this reaction. They thought they could get away with scrapping defined benefit pensions and stripping us of a decent guaranteed income in retirement. But now they’ve provoked the most disruptive strike action seen in British universities in many years. Thousands have joined UCU to strike and defend their pension in recent weeks, showing that university workers have had enough of marketization and privatisation. This strike is about saving our pensions, but it’s also about a sector where real terms pay has declined by roughly 18% in the last ten years, where the gender pay gap is the widest in any University sector in the Western world and where casual contracts and deteriorating terms and conditions are rife. For most university workers, particularly the low paid and casualised, there is a feeling we have been pushed too far.

This expenses scandal is on top of the vastly inflated six-figure salaries awarded to VCs when lecturers pay has fallen 18% in real terms over the last decade. Students angry at sky high fees and savage education cuts are completely on the side of staff. And since they’re now “paying customers” they’re demanding refunds of their fees!  support that. UCU has always campaigned for free and publicly funded education, and we believe fees should be scrapped. But if Universities want to charge fees they shouldn’t be surprised when students fight back. A YouGov poll shows the students back us, with just 2% blaming staff for the strikes but over 50% blaming management.

There have been huge local mobilisations of students around the country at affected universities, and on Thursday the UUK offices were occupied in solidarity! In London a demo has been called for Wednesday, the 5th day of strike action. The student support has been fantastic and at our campus in Sheffield around 500 staff and students gathered at our rally, with a carnival atmosphere, smoke flares and samba, and a feeling that we showed exactly who really runs our university. We’ve also held teach out sessions and discussions of the strike with students, and we’re building our branch and our solidarity with students and other workers through the strike action.”

Four universities join pension strikes as minister calls again for talks without preconditions (26 Feb) – Staff at four more universities have walked out as strikes over cuts to pensions enter their second week. UCU members at King’s College London and Queen Mary University of London, as well as Edinburgh and Stirling universities, are all starting their action from today. Staff at 61 institutions will be striking on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week, with further strikes planned in March if the dispute is not resolved read more

Lecturers started their action last Thursday and Friday and have continued the action this Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

The next strike days are:

Week three – Monday 5, Tuesday 6, Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8 March (four days)

Week four – Monday 12, Tuesday 13, Wednesday 14, Thursday 15 and Friday 16 March (five days)

Tuesday 27 February – London Wide Lobby of UUK and UCU Talks: 2.45pm USS HQ, 60 Threadneedle Street, London EC2R 8HP Facebook event

Wednesday 28 February – Defend Education: London March for Pensions and Pay (called by London UCU) – 12noon Malet Street, London, WC1E 7 Facebook event

Strikes at 15 colleges from Wednesday in row over pay (26 Feb) – Members of UCU at 14 colleges will be on strike on Wednesday and Thursday this week (28 February & 1 March) in an ongoing row over pay. On Wednesday staff at Sunderland College are also walking out. The colleges affected are here

 

 

NSSN news

Advanced notice: the 2018 National Shop Stewards Network Annual Conference will be from 11am-4.30pm on Saturday June 30th in Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, Holborn, London. It is open to all trade union and anti-cuts campaigners

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Union News

RMT

RMT protests in Aberdeen today for SOS2020 seafarers and offshore workers campaign (26 Feb) – RMT, the union for Seafarers and Offshore workers, will take its SOS 2020 campaign for ending employment barriers to more jobs and training for UK seafarers and offshore workers to Aberdeen today, Monday 26 February read more

RMT calls further strike action on Southern Rail in Britain’s longest running industrial dispute (22 Feb) – RAIL UNION RMT confirmed today that guards and driver members on Southern Rail will take further strike action in the on-going dispute in defence of the role of the guard, the extension of DOO and the guarantee of a second  safety-critical member of staff on Southern services. RMT’s NEC has considered this matter again today and due to the failure of both the Government and GTR to make any serious efforts to resolve the dispute it has instructed Southern guards and driver members not to book on for any shifts that commence between 0001 and 2359 on Monday 12 March 2018 read more

RMT Waterloo picket January 8 anti-DOO strike

RMT Waterloo picket January 8 anti-DOO strike

RMT confirms further 24 hours of strike action on Northern and Merseyrail in fight over guards and rail safety – RAIL UNION RMT today announced further strike action on Saturday 3rd March in separate disputes with train operating companies Northern and Merseyrail over attacks on the role of the safety-critical guard and the extension of Driver Only Operation in the name of increased profits. Members on Northern and Merseyrail, have been instructed to take action as follows: Not to book on for any shifts between 0001 hours and 2359 hours on Saturday 3rd March 2018 read more

National dispute fund (DOO disputes) – If you would like to donate to the RMT National Dispute Fund which makes payments to support their striking members taking part in National DOO disputes then you can donate via PayPal using the donate button below or make a cheque payable to RMT National Dispute Fund and send it to the address below. Alternatively, you can ring their Freephone helpline on 0800 376 3706 who will be happy to process a credit card payment for you, or, if you would like to pay via internet banking, please email l.rolles@rmt.org.uk for further details. Vicky Thompson, Finance Manager RMT, 39 Chalton Street, London NW1 1JD. Tel: 020-7529-8843

 

Unite

GKN workers to lobby Parliament and urge government to stop debt-fuelled takeover bid (26 Feb) – What: Photo/broadcast opportunity – GKN workers unfurl banner and lobby Parliament. Where: Opposite the Houses of Parliament, Old Palace Yard, Westminster, SW1P 3JY. When: 13:00 hrs Wednesday 28 February 2018. GKN workers will be travelling from workplaces across England to the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday (28 February) to lobby MPs and demand Theresa May’s government stops Melrose’s debt-fuelled takeover bid of the British-based engineer read more

Union powered pay deal for thousands of energy workers (26 Feb) – Following a Unite organising campaign, 6000 workers at Western Power Distribution have secured an inflation beating pay deal of an extra £1260 a year on average for a worker, followed by another inflation beating deal in 2019. The deal means thousands of Western Power employees working across the South West, Wales and the Midlands will benefit from the certainty of two consecutive years of above inflation (RPI) pay. Workers will receive a 4.2 per cent pay increase from the 1 April 2018 followed by an increase set at 0.5 per cent above the retail price index from April 2019. Workers are guaranteed a minimum of 3 per cent in 2019 read more

Castle Cement drivers hail pay deal victory (22 Feb) – Drivers working for Castle Cement have voted to accept an improved two-year pay deal, Unite said today (Thursday 22 February). Unite said that its members at eight depots across the UK had voted overwhelmingly to accept the new pay package and, as a result, the strike action scheduled for 26-27 February won’t now go-ahead. About 240 workers have accepted the overall package which will mean an increase of 3.7 per cent from 1 January this year; and for 2019, an increase which could range from 3.4 to 4.4 per cent read more

Bromley library staff and care workers vote for action amid outsourcing chaos (22 Feb) – Unite warned of possible strike action hitting services run for Bromley council by two contractors today (Thursday 22 February), after library staff and care workers overwhelmingly backed action in two separate strike ballots. 100 per cent of library staff working for Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL) across the London borough’s 14 libraries backed strike action on a turnout of 87 per cent in a dispute over staffing, pay and time off for union duties. Meanwhile, care workers working for Certitude Support at the Astley day centre backed action by 70 per cent in a dispute over pay, health and safety and union recognition. Commenting Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “What we are seeing in Bromley is outsourcing chaos. There have been continual problems since Bromley’s libraries were privatised and Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL) took over from the council.” Read more

EDF Energy ‘hypocritical’ smart meter vehicle tracking row escalates with seven days of strikes – Strike action by EDF Energy smart meter installers in London is set to escalate in the row over the imposition of tracker devices in vehicles, and also random drug and alcohol testing. The 24 hour strikes, starting at 00.01, will be held on 19, 22 and 27 February, and 1 March, followed by a 72 hour strike commencing on 6 March read more

EDF Bexleyheath picket January 28

EDF Bexleyheath picket January 28

Unite hails victory in EDF meter workers’ union recognition fight (21 Feb) – The successful battle for the trade union recognition of EDF Energy workers transferred to Morrison Data Services has been hailed as a key victory by Unite, the country’s largest union. About 40 meter readers had unanimously voted for strike action if Morrison’s, based in Newcastle, had not recognised the EDF workers after they had been transferred. However, following talks between Unite and the management under the auspices of the conciliation service, Acas, a recognition agreement was hammered out. Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “This is a significant victory which demonstrates that union recognition rights can’t be quietly forgotten and silently pushed into the shadows when workers are transferred between organisations read more

Support Ian Allinson: Protesters accuse Fujitsu of victimising whistleblowers (23 Feb) – Protesters are holding a demonstration this morning (23 February) outside Fujitsu’s offices in Manchester. They are accusing the company of using the cover of redundancies to get rid of workers who blew the whistle on unethical and possibly illegal company behaviour. Duncan Tait Fujitsu CEO for Europe, Middle East, India and Africa was due to attend a meeting at Fujitsu’s offices in Manchester today. On 12 January 2018 Fujitsu dismissed a Unite representative. Before the dismissal whistleblowers raised extremely serious and damaging issues with the company which the union is compiling. Union reps have previously been targeted with spurious disciplinary allegations for legitimate union activity read more. Keep up to date with Unite: Our union in Fujitsu website

Support bus strikes at First Bus Rusholme in Manchester – Send messages of support and donations via Neil Clarke, neil.clarke@unitetheunion.org c/o Unite, Jack Jones House, 2 Churchill Way, Liverpool  L3 8EF

 

PCS

Urge your MP to join March 6 PCS pay rally (26 Feb) – PCS is urging all our members and supporters to tell their MP to back our campaign for a proper pay rise and attend our public sector pay rally in parliament on 6 March. The rally, from 6-8pm in committee room 12 of the House of Commons, is the latest event in our pay campaign. We want you to complete our e-action to urge your MP to attend our rally, to add their voice to our pay claim and commit to lobby ministers to end the pay cap and fully fund above inflation increases. Speakers at the rally include:

PCS president Janice Godrich (chair of rally)

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey

Louise Regan, NEU president

Chris Stephens MP, chair PCS parliamentary group, SNP TU spokesperson

Faiza Shaheen, director Class think-tank

Ian Lavery MP, shadow minister for trade unions and civil society read more

DWP compulsory redundancies: send PCS e-letter to permanent secretary (22 Feb) – PCS is calling on all DWP members in the Department for Work and Pensions to send an e-letter to permanent secretary Peter Schofield to support 2 of our members at Plymouth Benefit Centre who are needlessly facing compulsory redundancy. Bizarrely the office that these two members – who are administrative officer grade staff – work in is not actually closing. However, the work that they do is moving to another location that is outside their mobility and the DWP claims that it can find no other AO work in Plymouth for these staff to do. Help support the campaign by registering your protest against this shameful decision by sending an e-letter to the DWP permanent secretary Peter Schofield read more

Babcock Armour Centre workers stand firm for improved pay offer (22 Feb) – PCS members at Babcock Armour Centre took strike action over a three day period this week. All members were asked to take industrial action for at least one day, but many took more. The trade dispute revolves around a pay offer that failed not only to meet the PCS national pay claim, but also failed to meet either CPI or RPI inflation indices. Members were rightly angry that this represents a pay cut in real terms, when Babcock International made pre-tax profits the previous year of over £500 million and the CEO Archie Bethel earned £1.3 million in salary and bonuses. The banner produced by PCS for the picket line spelt it out: Babcock profits up 80%, salaries down 5% read more

Support DWP strikes:

  • Send messages of support to Leeds@pcs.org.uk
  • Send donations to the strike fund to PCS DWP Group, 3rd Floor, Town Centre House, Merrion Centre, Leeds, LS2 8LY

 

CWU

Catch up on the latest with the CWU’s campaigns and disputes: Royal Mail Four Pillars, BT Pensions and Close the Gap/Justice for Agency Workers in BT

 

Unison

Local government pay consultation – Members in schools and local authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are being consulted on two-year pay offer read more

Support the Birmingham Homecare Workers read more on Birmingham Unison website Facebook page

 

POA

Sign the petition against the Government reducing the Prison Officer Pension

 

FBU

Sign petition: Stop West Midlands Firefighters being taken away from the frontline! #FiredUp – Recent events such as the fire at Grenfell Tower and terrorist attacks across the country have shown that when you need the fire service, you need them quickly. But now, councillors in the West Midlands want to use flexible contracts to make firefighters undertake non-emergency work such as transporting people from hospital and picking up people who fall in their home. This will involve frontline firefighters and their emergency vehicles. Our message is clear; if firefighters are tied up with non-emergency work then they cannot be there for you and your family in your time of desperate need: This is unacceptable

 

NEU

Support the Newham strikes against academisation: three schools in Newham were on strike again this week against threats of academisation: Avenue Primary, Cumberland and for the first time, Keir Hardie. There was a tremendous strike demonstration and rally to East Ham Town Hall yesterday. As a result of the campaign, Newham Councillors overwhelmingly voted for a motion which opposes academisation, ends all support for it and backs binding parental and staff ballots. You can tweet messages of support to @NUTLondonOffice

Newham demo Feb 26

Newham demo Feb 26

 

GMB

DHL Does The Dirty (Feb 26) – DHL does the dirty by sacking loyal workers and slashing their redundancy says GMB. These workers have shown nothing but loyalty to DHL and are now being thrown out of their jobs through no fault of their own says GMB. GMB, the union for warehouse and distribution workers, has accused DHL of ‘doing the dirty’ after staff were given the double hammer blow of losing their jobs and their enhanced redundancy payments at the same time. Up to 140 workers on the O2 contract at the Normanton site face the sack read more

Workers’ Mustn’t Suffer For KFC’s Foul Up (Feb 21) – GMB demands KFC and DHL don’t make workers suffer for their chicken foul up. Multi-billion pound global giants treating workers at the sharp end like dirt because of their cock up is a disgrace, says GMB. GMB, Britain’s general union, has demanded KFC and DHL ensure workers aren’t made to suffer for the companies’ chicken delivery foul up. The global fast food chicken giant has been forced to close hundreds of its UK outlets [1] after a ‘bird-brained’ decision to award the delivery contract to DHL in order to save money – a decision GMB warned them would have serious consequences read more

 

BECTU

Picturehouse members on week-long strike – BECTU members leading the campaign for the Living Wage at Picturehouse cinemas were on their first ever week-long strike last week. This escalation of the action demonstrates the enduring commitment of members to the campaign, despite continued hostility from the company and its refusal to sit down with the union to discuss ways to resolve the dispute read more. Read the latest on Brixton Ritzy Facebook Page and those of Hackney, Crouch End, Central, Dulwich East and Duke of York Brighton

Donate to the Picturehouse Cinema strike fund: https://www.crowdpac.co.uk/campaigns/250/picturehousestrike

 

NUJ

NUJ wins cash for members sacked following Oldham Evening Chronicle closure (22 Feb) – The NUJ has won a claim for members who lost their jobs when the Oldham Evening Chronicle, owned by Hirst, Kidd & Rennie, went bust in September last year with 49 people made redundant. A hearing at Manchester Employment Tribunal resulted in a protective award judgment for the union’s members at the daily newspaper, founded in 1854. Judge Batten awarded 90 days’ pay to the staff read more

 

BFAWU

Keep sending solidarity to the BFAWU, donate to the strike fund and also help the fund by buying a #McStrike t-shirt. More info on the Fast Food Rights/Hungry for Justice website

 

United Voices of the World union

BREAKING NEWS! Cleaners at the Daily Mail – all of whom are migrant workers and members of UVW – are set to strike over poverty wages! (16 Feb) – They are demanding the London Living Wage of £10.20 p/hour! Stay tuned for strike dates www.uvwunion.org.uk

 

 

 

Blacklisting & Victimisation

Blacklist Support Group financial appeal: the Blacklist support group is desperately short of funds, to continue the incredible work we need more finance, would you please consider making a donation, raise it at your branches and trade councils. Please make cheques payable to Joint sites committee and send to 70 Darnay Rise Chelmsford Essex CM1 4XA. Please forward onto your contacts many thanks Steve Kelly (JSC Treasurer)

‘Carillion ruined my life by blacklisting me for raising health and safety concerns’ – Dave Smith Joint Secretary of the Blacklist Support Group in the Metro

Blacklisted t-shirts available at: https://shop.hopenothate.org.uk/component/hikashop/product/78-blacklisted-t-shirt

Book: http://newint.org/books/politics/blacklisted-secret-war/

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNcgrNs6pB8

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/groups/blacklistSG/

Blog: www.hazards.org/blacklistblog

 

 

International

Egypt: government must stop intimidating journalists ahead of elections read more on NUJ website

 

 

Diary

 

2018

February

 

March

6 PCS pay lobby of Parliament

17 National Marches against Racism in London, Glasgow and Cardiff Facebook event

 

May

12 TUC demonstration ‘A new deal for working people’ https://www.tuc.org.uk/events/new-deal-working-people-tuc-march-rally

 

June

30 National Shop Stewards Network 2018 Annual Conference 11am-4.30pm Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, Holborn, London

NHS 70th anniversary rally

 

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