UCU

UCU: this is a dispute we can win

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The remarkable strike by university staff in the UCU union has involved whole new layers of workers in struggle and raised much wider political issues than the pension scheme dispute that is driving it. Socialist Review spoke to three strikers from different universities about their experiences.

Who could have imagined that university lecturers and other staff would have engaged in a 14-day strike to defend their pensions, still less imagined that after 10 days of the strike they would wholeheartedly reject an attempt to impose a settlement that would have sold short the principle of defined benefits?

The union is now faced with the option of activating a further 14 days of strike, possibly during the crucial period of exams, as well as Action Short of Strike (ASOS), working to contract, to ensure that the status quo is maintained.

Universities Inc

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Outbursts of anger from students and academics greeted the plans of philosopher AC Grayling to establish the New College of the Humanities (NCH) - a new for-profit private university with fees of £18,000.

Peter Hall, a financier who has donated more than £450,000 to the Tory party, has provided the money to promote his vision of a market-driven education. To dismiss the NCH merely as a finishing school for the super-rich (which it will be) fails to capture its significance.

Support Tusc!

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I put myself forward as the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (Tusc) candidate for Tottenham because cuts in my college are a microcosm of the cuts threatened by all the main parties.

An electoral challenge to David Lammy MP had to be mounted. The campaign is gathering momentum. A growing team of people from the college and the community have been postcarding door to door and on the street. The response has been really positive.

I've lived and worked in Tottenham for 21 years and have seen the effects of rising social inequality. We now have the highest unemployment in London and life expectancy is 17 years lower than in the wealthiest areas.

Not lost in translation

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At the time of writing, UCU members at Tower Hamlets College in East London have been on all-out strike for three weeks.

Our campaign started in June when we received notice of £2 million cost efficiency savings and cuts to over 40 posts and 1,000 English for Speakers of Other Languages (Esol) places. Our branch began the ballot, fearing cuts. But then the news of what was proposed hit us late on a Friday afternoon and we all went home in shock.

UCU strike ballot: Time to pay up

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Some 45,000 Further and Adult Education lecturers in the University College Union (UCU) are being balloted for strike action over pay alongside teachers on 24 April.

Some may say that there is nothing unusual about that when lecturers in this sector have probably taken more one-day strikes over the past 15 years than most workers. However, this time it is different.

We are used to getting insulting pay deals, but like other public sector workers this year we face a pay cut. Lecturers have seen principals' pay rise 50 percent faster than theirs since 2002. Last year we were offered 2.5 percent. On average, principals awarded themselves 4.5 percent on an average salary of £100,000.

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