SFEU (Solidarity Federation Education Union) continues to stand in solidarity with those workers who are currently involved in the UCU industrial actions taking place at FE and HE institutions across the country.
The UCU, at a Special Higher Education Sector Conference, has now set out the terms of the continuing dispute centred on pensions and the Four Fights (casualization, workload, equal pay and conditions for women and BAME workers and the broader issue of pay).
Our small but growing Union, the Solidarity Federation Education Union, supports this ballot and argues that workers should vote in favour of strike action to defend our pensions and conditions. With inflation rising, furlough ending, and historic injustices over pay, pensions and conditions continuing to prevail, the only option left to us is downing tools and walking out. To have any chance of success, this action must be both local and national and must build on the gains, small though they were, of the last period of strike action.
Starting on Wednesday 1st December, 58 branches of UCU (University and College Union) went on strike for 3 days over issues surrounding pensions, pay, working conditions and pay gaps. A group of SolFed members who are students at Sussex University attended the picket line and took part in direct action in support of all staff who were on strike.
The strike began with a big demonstration and march around the campus, ending at Sussex House - the university’s management building. We attended and waved our red and black flag, asserting an anarcho-syndicalist presence among the students.
The tenth issue of Education Worker, the bulletin of the Education Workers Network of SolFed focuses on victimisation in education, including articles on victimisation of NUT reps, the Halesowen Four and London Met.
After the last UCU pensions strike in March, several rank & file union members, upset at the lack of inter-union unity, set up the Manchester University Staff Against the Cuts group (MUSAC). The group has been meeting regularly and consists of members of Unite, Unison and UCU. Members of Manchester EWN are also involved.
It has been good to meet with people whose criticisms of the existing unions match our own in many ways. The group has held a weekly stall in the University, giving out leaflets in support of various anti-cut campaigns.
Our bulletin for the June 30th public sector strikes. Including:
- Why should I care about public sector pensions?
- Claimants: today is a strike day
- Disabled people answer June 30 strike call
- Plus: a map of pickets and demonstrations in Brighton (see our online map here)
Download as a pdf (double-sided A4).
Bulletin for the June 30th public sector strikes - Why care about public sector pensions? (2011)
As part of a national strike day, members of UCU at Sussex university have been picketing. They were joined by other education workers and students at the entrance to campus who expressed their support for industrial action.
UCU are involved in a series of rolling strikes across the UK which started last week in Scotland and culminate in a FE and HE strike on Thursday. Strikes are nominally over changes to the pension scheme, however at Sussex it was clear that strikers see this as part of the wider fight against austerity. This was also in evidence from the solidarity from students and education workers well beyond the UCU membership.
Higher Education faces significant changes in the coming years as universities move to a market based model. Tuition and top-up fees are perhaps the more visible signs of this but many institutions are now seeing changes which, among other things, significantly affect education workers’ terms and conditions. Union responses so far have seen conferences like NUS’s (National Union of Students) ‘Reclaim the Campus’ and UCU’s ‘Challenging the market in education’ (University and College Union)