Advice about the UCU strike

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May 21 2018 17:09
fingers malone wrote:
UVW Cleaners dispute at the university of London is still on, 25th and 26th April

And June 6th as well. Also continuing pay disputes at various FE colleges, for what it's worth.

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May 21 2018 21:48

Our dispute in FE so far is actually the most militant dispute we've ever had at my workplace.

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May 22 2018 06:18

Do you reckon all the stuff in HE has had any effect on that?

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May 22 2018 06:23

Yes, there are lots of more 'local' factors about our specific conditions but I think seeing a really big militant strike with loads of new workers involved definitely gave us heart

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Nov 21 2019 19:51

This feels like it could use a big bump. Not seen anything new from Notes from Below/University Worker for this new round of strikes yet, but there's this from the IWW (the attached leaflets look really weird in my browser, but display fine if you actually download them and open in Adobe or whatever): https://iww.org.uk/news/all-out-in-support-of-striking-university-staff/
And some nicely-designed posters here: https://twitter.com/we_are_adg/status/1195780074198503425

Anything else so far?

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Nov 25 2019 18:24

...Aaand the University Worker is back: https://notesfrombelow.org/article/university-worker-2019

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Dec 3 2019 21:24
doug wrote:
I was in a similar position to you, classed as admin staff at a university and a member of Unison which represents my pay grade. I found out that I could be a member of the UCU - which quietly recruits any HE/FE staff outside of cleaners and security - and that being a member of the UCU was enough to join the strike*. That's what I've done and I've been on the picket from the start. I'll find out how my manager reacts next week.

Hah, I just came back to this thread to ask about this very issue, because this time round I'd met some IT staff who were striking as part of UCU, and was kind of confused by it because I'd always thought of UCU as being pretty much just academics, but there you go, turns out my question was answered in this thread a year and a bit ago. Does anyone know of much other non-academic participation in UCU/these strikes? I know there's the IWGB thing tomorrow, but that's a bit different. And more generally, any observations from this time round?

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Dec 10 2019 21:00

There's a confusion as UCU and Unison have 'no poaching agreements' and in HE these assign iirc Grade 6 and above to UCU and Grade 5 and below to Unison. However no poaching agreements are not the same as a ban on Grade 5 and below workers joining UCU. However this is often either misunderstood as a rule that Grade 5 and below workers cannot join, or is deliberately presented as a ban by academics who believe that the union should only be for academics.
In FE there is something about 'student facing' staff.

I'm an FE rep and don’t work in HE, and shortly before the strike started (just a few days before in some cases) I had non academic staff in HE contacting me asking if they could join UCU to join the strike, and they did do that.

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Dec 10 2019 21:48

Thanks for that. So, trying to get my head around things, would a UCU member in a Grade 5 or below role have the same protections as a UCU member in Grade 6 or above? And would a non-union member have the same rights as a UCU member in that situation? Industrial relations law is kind of confusing.

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Dec 10 2019 22:11

Protections, do you mean protection from retaliation by the employer because you went on strike?

There could be an issue if you are not directly affected by the issue the strike is about, eg if you are not eligible for the pension scheme, then I think you could be accused of secondary action (not 100% sure on this point) I think in the case of the ongoing UCU strike there are several issues (pay gap, pensions, workload, casualisation) which helps.

In practice one of the deciding factors is if your branch will defend you, which is very variable.

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Feb 19 2020 21:24

New bulletin for the new strike up now at: http://libcom.org/library/university-worker-strike-bulletin-2018-lecture...

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May 26 2020 08:55

fwiw, a bit of debate about the strikes has now appeared at:
https://tribunemag.co.uk/2020/05/learning-the-lessons-from-the-ucu-strik...
https://newsocialist.org.uk/we-cannot-pause-pandemic-response/

This bit from the first article seems impressively daft:

Quote:
Unfortunately, the small central committee of elected members that directed these disputes – the Higher Education Committee (HEC) – made one strategic error after another.

First, the HEC decided to conduct the ballots for action on a ‘disaggregated’ rather than an ‘aggregated’ basis. For each UCU branch to take action under the UK’s draconian trade union laws, it would need to cross a 50% turnout threshold among its own membership, regardless of whether the rest of the union has crossed that threshold overall. In an aggregated ballot, by contrast, an overall turnout of 50% would have enabled every branch in the dispute to go on strike. The decision to disaggregate proved to be a mistake.

The union’s campaigning took more branches than ever over the threshold – 56 in the Four Fights dispute, climbing to 69 after another equally impressive set of results in a series of re-ballots. (The previous record was 7.) But 69 was still only a minority of the branches covered by the Four Fights dispute. More than half of the employers in the union’s collective bargaining framework would face no industrial action and therefore no pressure to make the union an improved offer.

So, disaggregating the ballot was a mistake because only a minority of branches passed the threshold and so most employers didn't face any industrial action. In an aggregated ballot, if the same result had come in and the overall turnout hadn't passed the threshold, which seems likely, no-one would have taken any action at all. Is that supposed to be somehow better?
There's actually a really direct comparison that it's easy to make here, because both Unite and Unison ran a strike ballot over the same pay claim that this strike involved, in the same period of time, but they both ran on an aggregated basis meaning that none of their members took any action anywhere. Think the same's true for the GMB. Whatever criticisms you can make of the UCU, do the article's authors really think that Unite, Unison and the GMB have done a better job of putting pressure on HE employers recently? Fwiw, I'm sure I've heard a rumour that Unison was going to be discussing the idea of moving to disaggregated ballots for precisely that reason.