Sussex university UCU and Unison union members picketed together earlier in August. Now there’s a battle over the sacking of James Furner (Picture: @sussexucu)

Strike vote coming at 89 colleges across England

Workers at 89 further education (FE) colleges across England are to vote on strikes over pay and other issues.

UCU union members start the vote next Tuesday, and it runs until 10 October.

The union is demanding a 15.4 percent pay rise for workers, action on excessive workloads, binding national negotiations, and a just transition commission for FE.

Workers haven’t been offered a pay deal, but education secretary Gillian Keegan promised £470 million of funding, which she said is equivalent to a 6.5 percent pay rise.

Keegan has said this will be the same as school workers accepted.

This pay rise was far from enough for school workers, and it’s not enough for college workers either.

For most college workers, pay has fallen by 35 percent in the last 12 years in real terms.

Activists must work hard to get the vote out. They have to fight for a massive vote for strikes that smashes the threshold mandated by the anti-trade union laws.

The ballot is disaggregated—it will be counted college by college. Strike votes will be a clear sign to those at the top of the union that college workers are ready to fight.

But workers must learn from the universities’ fight and deepen democratic control. Union leaders have repeatedly sabotaged these strikes.

For a list of colleges voting go here 

Vote to keep up the Mab

The leaders of the UCU union continue to try to put an end to the marking and assessment boycott (Mab).  

The union has sent an e-ballot to vote on the future of the Mab at the end of. It gave workers a choice that was basically to end the Mab or carry on without the backing of the leadership of UCU.

Workers should vote no to ending the Mab.

This boycott has caused real disruption, with thousands of students not graduating in the usual way..

More of this kind of action combined with strikes is needed for university workers to win.

UCU Left, which Socialist Worker supports, wrote that UCU leaders “have failed to lead the Mab itself and then focused its energies on trying to persuade the employers not to make deductions they had already said they would make.

“Some of our members are being held to ransom by employers who, far from cutting deductions, have threatened continuous deductions until the work has been marked.

“The answer must be for the whole union to rally around them and hit back, not to back down.”

Earlier this month the union’s higher education committee voted for strikes in September under the current mandate and for a re-ballot so workers can strike at the start of the academic year.

So far branches haven’t been given any information about when the ballot will begin.

Stop the attacks on teachers of critical courses

Bosses at the University of Chichester have gone ahead with the sacking of the only professor of the history of Africa and the African Diaspora in Britain.

Hakim Adi had been campaigning against his suspension and the bosses’ plans to scrap the unique MRes History of Africa and the African Diaspora Course at the university.

A petition to stop the scrapping of the MRes has garnered some 12,000 signatures.

The Save MRes History of Africa and the African Diaspora campaign committee wrote. “Chichester’s decision is a clear attack on the history of African and Caribbean people in Britain and globally, and we will continue our fight to hold the institution accountable for its discriminatory actions.

This decision is a shocking move from university bosses at Chichester.

It seems to have been influenced by Tory attacks on humanities and arts subjects.

Campaigners must continue to fight to save the MRes course and Hakim’s job.

For an interview with Hakim Adi and solidarity details go here

The UCU has condemned plans by the University of Sussex to sack philosophy lecturer James Furner.

He had consecutive fixed term part-time contracts since 2021. But the university says his employment will end this month. Yet on 7 July, it advertised a new full-time post covering Furner’s courses.

Sign the petition here 

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