Trade Unions

UCU Left overrule decision to ballot members on strike action

UCU (the University and College Union) represents lecturers affected by proposed changes to public sector pensions.  Sally Hunt, the general secretary, thought members should be balloted on the government’s latest offer.  I agree.  But she has been overruled by the UCU Left dominated NEC, as reported by THE:

A UCU spokesman said the motion also “commits the union to reject the government’s offer, name a day of national strike action for 1 March (to which other unions are to be invited), and to further regional strike days during February”.

That puts the UCU at the forefront of the push for further strikes, as other teaching unions consult their members about next steps on the government’s offer.

John McCormack, an NEC member, wrote on the UCU Independent Broad Left website: “Once again, the SWP-led UCU Left have treated our members with total contempt by voting to deny them a ballot.”

In an email sent to members Sally Hunt states that, back in December, the NEC agreed that it would be appropriate to ballot members on any ‘final offer’ from the government.  However now, as she explains, the NEC is asserting that ‘we don’t believe the government have yet made any improvements significant enough to warrant such a ballot at this moment of time.’

However – as the THE reports – this does not seem consistent with the facts:

Ms Hunt had said that the latest offer, with a 1/57 accrual rate, would see a further education lecturer under 50 with 20 years’ service get a pension worth 91 per cent of current entitlement – up from 81 per cent under the government’s initial offer.

Here’s part of a summary of the situation from UCU Broad Left.  They conclude that the NEC has decided:

  • That the Government’s offer does not constitute their final offer, despite a statement by Mr Gove, Secretary of State for Education, to the General Secretary at a meeting the previous day that it was. Indeed a UCU Left member claimed that a “final” offer is never a “final” offer as you can always get something better. Presumably therefore, by that logic, there can never be a final offer on which to ballot members.
  • That UCU will not consult with members in a ballot.
  • That UCU will be the only teaching union not to consult with their members.

Mark Campbell (UCU Left) is challenging Sally Hunt in a leadership contest next month.

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