If you’re going to have to take strike action to stop your pay sliding down and down, then you might as well make sure you win the strike.
UCU’s national ballot result over pay and working conditions is a victory for all UNISON members, because it was necessary for UCU members to be able to take national strike action. They achieved an 81% strike vote on a 58% turnout.
This puts more pressure on UCEA, the employers’ organisation, to come up with a better offer than the 3% imposed on us all in August.
It’s likely that UCU will now plan for strike action in November across all universities in national pay bargaining (i.e. nearly all of them) and if so, UNISON will then consider what we do, both locally and nationally. It makes practical sense to match some or all of UCU’s strike days. It also makes sense to re-ballot UNISON branches which didn’t meet the 50% turnout threshold first time round, so that as many UNISON branches as possible will be able to take joined-up action.
Ideally, of course, we’d be looking at a much more trade union coordination, so that all unions with a strike mandate could strike at the same time. We need a general strike and we all need a pay rise.
We should say though, that we don’t want to strike, lose pay and disrupt education. We want universities to pay us a proper wage that matches the cost of living, but the recent drop in the real value of our wages, combined with no movement from UCEA, leaves us all with no choice.
We want to see our own university leadership to say to UCEA that we deserve more, plus to actively argue that higher education should be properly funded so that we can be. We’re happy to organise a joint campaign.
Once we have some indications of what UCU are planning, we’ll meet to decide our next steps. If you have a view, feel free to let us know…