Members of the University and College Union, UCU (the largest trade union and professional association for academics, lecturers, trainers, researchers and academic-related staff working in further and higher education throughout the UK), are joined with Unison, Unite and EIS on strike today for fair pay. Visit: http://fairpay.web.ucu.org.uk
for details and live updates. The one-day strike will be followed next week by a third 2-hour strike of UCU, two having already taken place in 2014, action which is due to escalate unless there is negotiation. Local action is taking place at higher education organisations University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University. Local action has included pickets and ‘teach-outs’ in the city centre. At University of Nottingham, Unison and Unite members are not out due to local agreements.
Update: UCU members at Aberdeen, Bradford, East London, West of Scotland, Greenwich, Staffordshire, the Leeds College of Art, Manchester Met, Nottingham Trent, Robert Gordon and Queen Mary UL are all being called out on Monday 10th Feb for a full day strike because management has been docking a full days pay for a 2 hour strike.
Also see the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts for news of student-led actions and solidarity: http://anticuts.com.
Members of the University and College Union (UCU) along with Unite and Unison – the three largest unions in the higher and further education sector – will take industrial action over pay again on 3rd December 2013, rejecting a 1% offer in the knowledge that universities have made a huge surplus but staff pay has fallen in real terms by 13% since 2009. Locally there will be UCU picket lines at University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University involving teaching, research and teaching support staff (such as library staff). Local details: UCU Newsletter Issue 8 Nottingham Dec 2013
Tuesday 3 December strike remains on, but unions hope for more talks to break impasse
UCU said today (21 November 2013) it was disappointed that talks aimed at resolving a pay dispute in universities ended without a resolution last night.
The union said to avoid strike action across UK universities on Tuesday 3 December the employers’ representatives, UCEA, had to improve the 1% pay offer that was rejected by staff and which prompted strike action. UCU said it hoped there could be further talks before the 3 December action, but that the employers needed to return with an improved offer.
Previous action: Report of previous joint strike by UCU, Unite and Unison – the three largest unions in the sector (31st October) which has been followed by work-to-rule and other non-strike action: http://nottingham.indymedia.org.uk/articles/6221
… employers had a combined surplus last year of more than £1.1bn, according to HESA, yet were prepared to offer a pay rise which covered barely one-third of the increased cost of living.
our employers are sitting on billions of pounds of reserves, around £10bn (even after pension liabilities) according to HESA, yet say they cannot afford to help staff whose pay has fallen in real terms by 13% since 2009.
our employers expenditure on staff has stalled, yet salaries for those at the very top have grown to a point where, as The Independent newspaper describes, ‘performance seems to have no influence on vice-chancellors’ bonuses and benefits.’
These facts and the employers’ intransigence are why the National Union of Students (NUS) have called for further, urgent negotiations between both sides with the aim of agreeing ‘a fair and sustainable settlement for higher education staff’. UCU and our sister unions have agreed to this sensible suggestion, but the employers have not.
Public Service workers in health, education and the civil service were striking on Thursday 10 May in their next stage of the pensions dispute. Members of Unite working in health, UCU in education and the PCS in the civil service took part in the action which they thought to be an important step to bigger and more coordinated action in June.
Joining with ASLEF train drivers who were taking their 4th day of action over changes to their own pensions, which will see their pension pot devalued as a result of lower employer contribution. Like workers in the public sector, they are facing pensioner poverty for themselves and young people hoping to move into employment whose future the government seem determined to sell out.
There were two rallies on the day. The first started at the Queens Medical Centre at 11.00 am and linked in with Unite members there. After that, the main rally took place at 12.00 in the Market Square, Nottingham. Guest speakers will included union members in ASLEF, UNITE, UCU and PCS and a representative from Occupy Nottingham, students as well as representatives of other unions in dispute.
In Nottingham over 10,000 people marched from the Forest into the city centre, many after taking part in pickets of their workplaces, and it was wonderful to be received by applause as we turned the corner of Mansfield Rd. and Parliament St. The march then passed via Speakers’ Corner and through the Old Market Square alongside Occupy Nottingham and ended up in and outside of Albert Hall for a rally.
Earlier in the day those in Notts SOS and Notts UnCut who were not involved in the industrial action, including many students, supported picket lines at workplaces in the city and county with refreshments and good cheer. For a few hours after the march, a Critical Mass group of 25 cyclists cycled (at extremely slow pace) around the city centre, spreading the word about the strike and the fight against government cuts everywhere they went. There was a huge amount of public support for the message. The ride ended at the Sumac Centre in Forest Fields where the Autonomous Nottingham free space had relocated.
Industrial action continues (including work to contract at Universities and Colleges by members of UCU) while several unions have been in talks with the government since the 30th. More pressure will be needed to prevent the loss of hard won pensions, pay and conditions over the coming months. The NHS and benefits are also under sustained attack. Notts SOS will continue its work in bringing together people who are fighting austerity in its various guises.
After our last meeting of 2011 took place this evening, Notts SOS will resume its meetings in the New Year, on Monday 9th January 2012. All welcome!
There will be various events before then though, so do keep checking our website (you can also subscribe to get notification of new articles – just enter your email on the right).
On November 30th, public sector unions will strike together in defence of their pensions. The government-led attack which they are fighting is part of the wider cuts agenda. Notts SOS will be supporting what is likely to be the largest strike in decades and we urge you to do so as well.
Check out some of the things happening on November 30th that we know about below.
The former Conservative Social Club on Church Street Lenton has been occupied as a free space to support the strike. There will be events there on Wednesday and throughout the week.
Early morning onwards – Pickets outside all public buildings, schools, universities, etc. affected by the strike. Notts Uncut with the help of Occupy Nottingham are planning to do a roaming soup kitchen feeding the pickets.
There will be a Notts SOS campaigning stall from 11.00 to 13.00 in Old Market Square on Saturday, 19th November. The main theme will be pensions with an emphasis on the Public Sector Strike on 30th November in defence of pensions. A leaflet on pensions will be distributed and the David Cameron dummy with the label ‘Pinching Our Pensions’ will be on display.
Volunteers are needed to run the stall so if you can help, please get in touch or come down on the day.
Notts Save Our Services supports the 30th November Public Sector co-ordinated strike action and we support all public sector workers who take strike action.
The Con-Dem Government proposals are for public sector workers to pay more, work longer and receive less. The Government wants to privatise public services. The Government and the private sector see public sector pensions as a barrier because employees transferred out of the public sector must be offered “broadly comparable” pension schemes under the Fair Deal on Pensions. That is why George Osborne wants to end the Fair Deal on pensions. The strike against attacks on pensions represents a strike to defend public services and is therefore in the interests of all of us (and our families) who use or will use public services.
Public Sector pensions are neither “unfair” nor “gold plated” and have not been the cause of hardship in our communities or in the private sector. The unfairness lies between the rich and the poor, with the richest in society receiving pensions averaging £175,000 a year, 97% of executive directors in FTSE 350 companies having company-sponsored pension arrangements (compared to one third of private sector workers), and with most executives able to retire at 60. This is on top of growing income inequality with top incomes growing by 64.2 % over the past decade while average earners’ income has increased by 7.2 % so that at the present time the total income of the richest 10% of the population is higher than the combined income of the poorest 50% of the population.
Public sector pensions are not “unsustainable” and in March 2011 George Osborne himself told parliament that cutting public service pensions is about “filling the hole in the public finances”, demonstrating that these attacks have nothing to do with demographics and people living longer but are further attempts to make working people pay for a problem that they did not create.
The suggestion that strike action is falling into a Government “trap,” as Labour Party Ed Balls has stated, can only undermine the strike and does not serve the interests of the public. We call on everyone to respect the Unions’ decisions and to wholeheartedly back co-ordinated strike action on November 30th.
Notts SOS values and respects our public services and those who work in the public sector. We acknowledge that they carry out some of the most important work in our society, including nursing, midwifery, care of those of us who are elders, vulnerable, have disabilities or are children; providing emotional as well as practical support and often working more than their paid hours. We defend their right to take strike action.
Following successful ballots of the NUT/UCU/ATL/PCS unions, coordinated strike action will take place with support activities in Nottingham during the day of Thursday 30th June. Marches in the city, Market Square demonstration and conference (Albert Hall). Coaches from Notts. Full details forthcoming. See also:School & college walkouts planned to coincide with public sector strikes
Wednesday 18th May. Notts SOS stall and leafleting picket outside the local NHS “Listening” event to raise concerns about the Health and Social Care Bill. Belgrave Rooms, Goldsmith Street, Nottingham Wednesday 18th May, 5.30pm. To go inside you’ll need to book a place in advance through Katie Ford, Personal Secretary Communications & Engagement (NHS Notts Primary Care Trust) Tel: 01623 673333. Internal: 43333. E-mail: Katie.Ford@nottspct.nhs.uk.
Saturday 21th May. Visit (and/or help with) Notts SOS health campaigning stall from 12-2pm in Market Square, Nottingham. There also will be an opportunity to sign a ‘Keep the NHS public’ petition.
Sunday 22nd May, Green Festival, Arboretum, Nottingham, 12 noon to 6 pm. Visit Notts SOS stall.
Monday 23rd May. Notts SOS Planning meeting. Regular fortnightly meeting at the International Community Centre, Mansfield Road, Nottingham. 7.30pm until 9pm.
Friday 27th May. ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) students are handing over their massive petition against hikes in their course fees to Lilian Greenwood MP this Friday at 3pm. Please go down and show your support. The fee increases mean that 84% of those currently learning English (including many refugees and asylum seekers) will not be able to carry on with classes from September. TIME AND PLACE – 3pm at Lilian Greenwood’s Office, 12 Regent Street, Nottingham, NG1 5BQ.
Tuesday 14th June. The proposed closure of Hayward House daycare has now to be examined by the Joint Health Scrutiny Committee of Nottingham and Notts. The meeting at which HH will be on the agenda starts 10.15am in room LB41, Loxley House (Nottingham City Council, near side entrance of Nottingham station, Station Street). Written submissions (please make one) are needed by 23rd May. Details: http://www.savehaywarddaycare.org.uk/
Monday 20th June. Notts SOS Planning meeting. Regular fortnightly meeting at the International Community Centre, Mansfield Road, Nottingham. 7.30pm until 9pm.
Thursday 30th June – Coordinated strike action by NUT/UCU/ATL/PCS unions and support activities. March, Market Square demonstration and conference (Albert Hall), all in Nottingham. Coaches from Notts. Details forthcoming.
This week, on March 22nd and 24th, the University and College Union (UCU) took strike action in defence of the pay and pensions of academic and academic-related staff and against the employers’ attempts to bypass nationally agreed procedures for making redundancies. The majority vote for the strike is also a response to the wider political situation and most immediately the rise in student fees. Staff on strike in Nottingham were from Castle College, South Notts College, Nottingham Trent University and University of Nottingham. Students added to the numbers on picket lines and ran solidarity events all over Nottingham. The local strike leaflet was written by staff and students together. [Download student side of leaflet] [UCU staff side of leaflet]. Look at some photos here: http://nottingham.indymedia.org/articles/1073.
UCU officers and campaigners put lots of effort into building for the strike, not least in co-ordinating between institutions. For some of us Notts SOS UCU members it was the first time we had been involved in organising a strike as opposed to just turning up for picket line duty. It’s a lot of work, but we learned lot from more experienced staff. I think we can be pleased with the results, because support for the strike was amazing. Hundreds of staff stayed away or picketed. Staff from other unions or no union beeped their horns in support at picket lines and asked for leaflets and information about the strike. Many university security staff were supportive and helpful also. Even though some public sector trade unionists crossed picket lines, others, notably City and County Council workers such as bus drivers, beeped their horns in support and passengers also waved at us.
The UCU and students condemned the University of Nottingham’s assertion that the strike was undemocratic, pointing out that not only was it entirely legal, but percentage-wise the majority in favour of the strike was bigger than the vote for the Conservatives in the last election.
The strike culminated in a rally in the Market Square attended by several hundred people. Speakers made it clear even though workers are not legally allowed to strike except over their own pay, terms and conditions, there is a mood to go beyond this just as there is elsewhere in the public sector. To do this university staff – UCU, Unison and others – need to work together more closely so that the government and employers fear our strength just as they fear the new radicalised student movement that mobilised in support of us this week.
This was the message at the rally on Thursday March 24 in opposition to the cuts in funding ESOL classes. ESOL stands for English for Speakers of Other Languages and classes have traditionally been free for most students, who include people on JSA and ESE. But in Nottingham 76% of people on ESOL courses do not receive these benefits. They include refugees, asylum-seekers and other migrants who need English to integrate and contribute to British society. One of the messages of the rally was David Cameron’s hypocrisy in stating that refugees should integrate and at the same time removing one of the most important ways they can do this.
About one hundred and fifty teachers, students and their supporters attended and several refugees spoke about how important free access to English classes is to them. Their confidence in speaking in public in a second language is a tribute to their teachers and shows that having good language skills is not just about the ability to communicate but the confidence to do it in the first place. As one of the speakers said, it is an attack on basic human rights.
Removal of free ESOL classes is about more than saving money. It is about marginalising vulnerable people and we need to understand it as part of the state’s attack on refugees and asylum seekers, making it even harder for them to access help.
Even though this rally took place hours after the UCU rally earlier in the day, dozens of higher and further education staff and students waited after their own event to attend the ESOL rally. As one UCU member said, “Education is vital for liberation”.