Tuesday, 13 March 2018

ucu Union members react with anger to proposed deal

Union members react with anger to proposed deal

Photo credit Jonny Jones

Members of the UCU union were expressing their
determination on Monday evening to reject a deal
reached earlier in the day by a section of their
 leadership and Universities UK. The deal was
heavily criticised by members as soon as it was
released by UCU. Many vented their frustration
online, furious that it fell far short of what the strike
has demanded so far. They pointed out that this
 was because the deal:
§  Accepted the bosses case that the scheme
was financially unsustainable and raised the
amount of money workers would have to
contribute each month into their pension. At
the same time, the rate at which employers
pay into the scheme would fall.
§  Forced striking workers to reschedule their
classes that were missed during the strike,
effectively making them work unpaid whilst
also undermining the strike action.
§  Only lasted 3 years, in which time so-called
experts would be invited to come and
present inferior pension schemes, something
 that goes against what people have been on
 strike for.
In one open letter –signed by 5,000 union
members within hours – it said “In three years time
 we will be demobilised and pressured to accept a
worse deal. In our opinion we should keep going
and throw UUK’s offer out all together.”
In another statement released by University of
Liverpool UCU, it stated that a meeting of 100
members earlier in the day had unanimously
rejected the deal. “Members in our branch and
across the country did not join one of the most
impressive shows of collective solidarity in the
face of restrictive trade union laws for a
compromise offer that does not guarantee them
decency in retirement.”, it read. Within hours,
#NoCapitulation was trending on Twitter. One user
wrote “I was feeling a tad unstrikey at the
weekend. I am feeling very, very strikey now.
#NoCapitulation #ucustrike” The branch secretary
of one UCU branch involved in the strike simply
stated ‘massive sellout!” on Facebook.
However, this was not a done deal. Even the BBC
headlines on Tuesday morning that made out the
strikes were about to end had to acknowledge that
the agreement needed to be ratified by a meeting
of union reps that day, as well as any decision on
halting strikes. The meeting – to be held in UCUs
London offices – quickly became the focus of
union members’ anger, with hundreds committing
themselves to demonstrate outside in protest at
the proposed deal. Student groups which had
been set up to support the strike also threw
themselves behind what appeared to be an
overwhelming desire to carry on the fight in
defence of a decent pension.
As the morning rolled on, stories poured in of huge
meetings of striking university staff rejecting the
deal. One rep in Cardiff put the atmosphere like
this: “We’ve had picket lines this morning outside
buildings where there hasn’t been one before.
People are turning out more because they’re so
angry about the deal.” The hall booked for the
meeting was too small for the hundreds who
wanted to attend, so they held it outside instead.
Workers held aloft their placards, some had been
made the night before and simply read: ‘No’. The
meeting overwhelmingly rejected the deal.
The strike has unleashed a level of industrial
struggle and solidarity not seen in decades. The
mood of the strike has been very upbeat and
workers rightly think they can win. Pushing a deal
that falls so far short may have provided an
already confident strike with further opportunity to
strengthen the organisation of ordinary union
members and their supporters.

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