NSSN166 – Support UCU, Unison & Unite members strikers

31 October will be a day of coordinated strike action by UCU, Unison and Unite members working in Universities. This is the first UK-wide joint action between these Higher Education unions, demonstrating the anger that their members feel about the employers’ insulting 1% pay increase.

Even pro-capitalist commentator Will Hutton, writing in the Observer notes that “The real wages of academics have fallen by 13% since 2008, one of the largest sustained wage cuts any profession has suffered since the Second World War.” This is despite the scandalously high fees charged to students, which have subsidised lavish pay at the upper echelons of University management while ordinary teaching, research, and support staff struggle. We want a publicly funded system of Higher Education, free at the point of use and paying a fair wage to its workers. In addition to real-terms pay cuts, casualisation of all jobs is rife in the sector, including use of fixed-term, hourly-paid and even the now-infamous ‘zero hours’ contracts.

This job insecurity together with management bullying and excessive workloads will also motivate UCU members to undertake a ‘work to contract’ following the strike day. Many student organisations, including official students’ unions, have offered support. It will be vital to build on these links and make clear to students that this industrial action strengthens their fight for free education, particularly if exam marking ends up being affected. Already propaganda about the USS pension scheme has tried to pit students against staff – in fact this scheme is healthy in any reasonable measure, and a bizarre accounting practice is being used to claim students will end up ‘bailing out’ their lecturers’ pensions. Nothing could be further from the truth, but this and similar falsehoods will be peddled by the ConDem Government and their media chums if the dispute continues.

This and other elements of a serious fighting strategy could see a victory in the form of a significantly improved pay offer. But ultimately the dispute has arisen from the politics of austerity and we need to make links with other unions – our members already look to the dispute in the teachers’ unions NUT and NASUWT and the call for a one-day general strike against austerity is gaining ground. NSSN supporters in Higher Education unions will fight to make it a reality. (By A UCU member)



  Want to get more involved in the NSSN? Come to one of our regional Conferences. If there is not one in your area, get in touch to either assist in organising or have a speaker at one of your meetings or events. Contact Rob or Linda on [email protected]

November 23 Yorkshire NSSN conference – 10am-4pm, Cosmopolitan Hotel, 2 Lower Briggate, Leeds LS1 4AE November 30 Midlands NSSN conference – Unite offices in Broad Street, Birmingham Flyer can be downloaded here 8th Annual NSSN Conference will be on Saturday 5th July 2014 in London.

Union News

First UK-wide joint strike between higher education unions UCU, Unite & Unison set for 31 October. Universities across the UK will be brought to a standstill by strike action later this month unless a row over pay can be resolved in the next two weeks read joint union statement

CWU Postal workers voted 4 to 1 for strike action,  update on dispute read more CWU calls for Cable to resign over Royal Mail mishandling (24th October) – Following news that Royal Mail was valued at up to £10 billion by American bank JP Morgan – three times the float figure of £3.3bn – the Communication Workers Union is calling for Business Secretary Vince Cable to resign Read more

CWU serves notice for Royal Mail strike (28th October) – CWU has today (Monday) served formal notice for strike action in Royal Mail for Monday 4 November. Under UK laws a trade union must give at least seven days’ notice of any industrial action Read more

Post Office staff to strike with Royal Mail on Monday (29th October) – Staff in the country’s network of 372 Crown post offices will take a thirteenth round of strike action on Monday 4 November. Staff working in admin and supply chain functions (such as Post Office cash vans) will also take a first day of strike action in a dispute over pay. The action is being coordinated with strike action by Royal Mail and Parcelforce staff Read more

Capability tests and benefits cuts become a matter of life and death (29th October) – Life for disabled people in the workplace and in general society has got worse under the ConDem government to such an extent that lives are at risk. That was the resounding message from this year’s CWU Disability Conference Read more

PCS Strong support for shared services strike (25 October) – Hundreds of our members in shared services for DWP and Defra have taken action to oppose privatisation of jobs and services read more

Back our fight for jobs and services (28 October) – Our members across DWP and Defra shared services, who overwhelmingly supported strike action on Friday, are keeping up the pressure with further action this week read more

MPs: Official tax gap only tip of iceberg (29 October) – Huge doubt has been cast by a committee of MPs on HM Revenue and Customs’ estimate of the UK’s official tax gap read more

National executive agrees next phase of national campaign (29 October) – Our national executive has considered the results of the huge consultation exercise undertaken over the summer months following the decisions of our annual conference.  Seventy-eight per cent of our branches representing 206,000 members took part in the consultation on the next steps in our campaign to defend members’ pay, jobs and pensions. The national executive wishes to thanks branches for their positive and serious engagement in the consultation exercise. read more

FBU Derbyshire FBU campaign against cuts (October 23) – Derbyshire fire authority has approved for consultation a plan by its chief fire officer that will transform Derbyshire fire and rescue service. Proposals include: loss of 16 fire engines, loss of 11 fire stations, loss of over 100 full-time firefighters read more

Firefighters announce further strike dates as government fails to offer firm guarantees (October 25) – The Fire Brigades Union has announced further firefighters’ strikes on Friday 1 November 18.30-23.00 and Monday 4 November 06.00-08.00 after government and fire employers failed to offer any firm guarantees for firefighters facing ‘no job and no pension’ as a result of pension changes read more

New briefings on pensions (October 28) – The FBU has produced new briefings for members, officials and friends on the current pension situation. They help clarify key questions asked at the present point of our dispute and can be distributed ahead of strike action later this week read more

Unite London parcel deliveries could be hit in the run-up to Christmas (25 October) – Parcel deliveries in central London could be hit in the run-up to Christmas, if staff at UPS Parcels vote to strike in a dispute over unreasonable workloads and alleged bullying read more

Bradford council backs down in worker representation row (25 October) – Attempts by Bradford metropolitan district council to dictate which union rep an employee should have to represent them at hearings have been scuppered following a legal challenge by Unite read more

Lloyds must ensure staff contribution recognised as profits increase (29 October) – As Lloyds Banking Group announces an increase in profits, Unite the union, which represents staff at the bank, is calling on the bank to reflect on the contribution of staff read more

Ealing traffic wardens dispute settled (October 29) – Unite, the country’s largest union, has hailed the settlement of the Ealing traffic wardens dispute as “a success for collective action” read more

Strikes on at UK universities this week (October 29) – Unions disappointed employers refused talks to try and avert Thursday’s walkout. Read More

Hunt “wasted taxpayers’ money” in legal challenge over Lewisham hospital (October 29) – Health secretary Jeremy Hunt was accused of ‘a flagrant waste of taxpayers’ money’, following the Court of Appeal ruling that he did not have the power to implement cuts at Lewisham hospital in south-east London. Read More

Protest as all Essex’s youth workers face being sacked (October 29) – Protesters concerned that Essex could lose its entire 178-strong contingent of youth workers will be staging a demonstration at Chelmsford county hall on Thursday. Read More

Bradford council cuts blamed on Pickles’ policies (October 29) – The proposed cuts to nearly 700 jobs at Bradford metropolitan district council were blamed on the straitjacket financial polices of communities and local government secretary, Eric Pickles. Read More

Yorkshire ambulance dispute continues  in the preparation for industrial action on both national and regional issues.  Campaign also includes gathering H&S evidence and organizing a lobby of parliament.

Unison HE national day of action announced for 31 October (October 22) – Members of UNISON, UCU and Unite unions have voted to take part in nationwide industrial action to seek an improved pay offer for their members in higher education, following the rejection of the employer’s final offer of a 1% increase on all pay points. The first joint day of action has been called for 31 October read more

Halloween strike in higher education (October 28) – Higher education branches across the UK are preparing for members to take strike action alongside colleagues from UCU and Unite this Thursday, 31 October read more

UNISON brands axing of 1,500 Environment Agency jobs ‘potentially catastrophic’ (October 29) – UNISON has warned that the decision to axe a further 1500 Environment Agency workers is “potentially catastrophic” in the wake of yesterday’s devastating storm.  The St Jude’s Day storm caused major disruption and loss of life with a clean up bill expecting to cost millions of pounds.  Area staff are at the forefront of the service, protecting the public by directly maintaining rivers, deploying sandbags, giving flooding warnings, surveying protected species, dealing with pollution incidents and informing local consenting and planning read more

Keep probation public – email your MP (October 29) – UNISON’s campaign to keep probation public goes up a gear this week as we ask members and supporters to email their MP ahead of tomorrow’s important opposition day debate on plans to privatise the service read more

Higher education: why I’m striking (October 29) – UNISON members in higher education deserve fair pay for the work they do – and they’ve been explaining why they’re striking on Thursday to get it read more

RMT 20 YEARS OF DANGEROUS DOGMA (23 October) – RMT general secretary Bob Crow looks back at 20 years of rail privatisation and calls for an end to the experiment that the EU wants to roll out across Europe.  You cannot look at any aspect of our railways in 2013 without encountering the pernicious impact of privatisation read more

FIRST GREAT WESTERN MITIE CLEANERS TO STRIKE (24 October) – First Great Western Mitie cleaners to strike over Living Wage and zero hours contracts as company boss rakes in £1.37 million read more

EAST COAST RE-PRIVATISATION PLAN KICKS OFF (25 October) – RAIL UNION RMT today slammed David Cameron and his Government for trying on a massive, billion pound con trick on the British public as they fired the starting gun this morning in a mad dash to re-privatise the highly successful, publicly run East Coast rail operation before the next election read more

RMT RESPONDS TO RAIB REPORT ON SAXILBY TRACK WORKER FATALITY (25 October) – RMT general secretary Bob Crow said “The RAIB report into this appalling tragedy shines the spotlight on the dangers inherent in the current working environment of track workers on Britain’s railways read more

GMB TaTa Steel Jobs Threat (October 29) – GMB reacted with shock and regret to today’s announcement that TaTa Steel wants to cut 500 jobs across Scunthorpe, Workington and Teesside read more

Kent’s NHS Patient Transport Balloted (October 29) – GMB Members Working For NSL Care Services On Kent’s NHS Patient Transport Contract To Be Balloted For Industrial  Action read more

ASLEF CrossCountry workers to strike on November 5 & 7 after Ballot Result (17 Oct) –ASLEF’s executive committee met today to consider the result of the ballot of members for industrial action over the rest day working dispute with CrossCountry read more NAPO NAPO The Probation and Family Court Services union NAPO have called a 24 hour strike on 5th and 6th of November 12pm – 12pm to protest about the proposed privatisation of the Probation Service.  Public safety is a public concern! Members will be picketing at the following locations; Andover, The Court House, West Street Basingstoke, St Clements House, Alencon Way Winchester, Cromwell House, Andover Road Southampton, Town Quay House Fareham, 20 High Street Portsmouth, Enterprise House (by the station) Havant, Elmleigh Road (back of the carpark) Lymington, Island House, Priestlands Place Newport, Sea Street, IOW Visitors to picket lines and messages of support are welcome. For further information [email protected]

Other news

  Day of Action on November 5th which was called by the People’s Assembly.  Youth Fight for Jobs is using to campaign against zero-hour contracts The grip of privatisation on our vital services has to be broken. Read More Citizens Advice has published a new report which describes in no uncertain terms the seriousness of JSA sanctions and the dire financial position people end in when they are sanctioned. Read More Is Hunt about to wield the axe on London hospitals? Read More Comparing stories of people who don’t have money with stories of people who haveRead more

Blacklisting & Victimisation

  TUC has called a national Day of Action on Blacklisting on Wednesday November 20th & Blacklist Support Group is officially supporting the event. Some official TUC events:

Westminster – 1pm at College Green (opp. parliament) with 4 General Secretaries and front bench Labour MPs speaking

Holyrood – 12pm STUC protest followed by 1pm film show inside parliament with Neil Findlay MSP

Cardiff – Jane Hutt (Welsh Finance Minister) is speaking at WTUC event – details tbc

The unions will be building for the Day of Action by encouraging groups of workers to attend from large construction sites and laying on transport in some cases.

‘We encourage all blacklisted workers and supporters to participate in events – wear your BLACKLISTED T-shirts and bring blacklist banners. Good visuals make the newspapers. If your union branch or Trades Council has a local event planned, please forward the details and we will circulate via the email and facebook page. BSG expects to have speakers at each event and are arguing that every platform should have numerous blacklisted workers speaking. Nothing about us – without us.’  (Via Blacklist Support Group video & blog)

ICO admits it has proof of another blacklist.  The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has confirmed it holds documents relating to another blacklist in the construction industry. The confirmation came in a letter from ICO Deputy Commissioner David Smith to Ian Davidson MP, chair of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee investigation into blacklisting read more

International (also see Labourstart)

Rana Plaza factory disaster: victims still waiting for compensation – Leading brands yet to agree arrangements for injured workers and families of 1,129 people killed in Bangladesh six months ago read more

Portuguese labor groups begin raft of strikes LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Portuguese postal workers opposed to the national mail service’s planned privatization are walking off the job for 24 hours, marking the start of a series of strikes by labor groups angry about reforms and austerity measures read more

A rollback of workers’ rights means turmoil, unions warn Santo Domingo.- If big business succeeds in a Labor Code reform which cuts severance pay, pre and post natal and vacation days, it would unleash nationwide turmoil and social confrontation of unpredictable consequences, union leaders warned Thursday. Read more

Strikes Surge as Killings of Colombian Union Leaders Fall At a makeshift camp outside a Drummond Co. coal mine in northern Colombia, roughly 200 strikers played cards as fellow-worker and evangelical pastor Jehiz Castrillon urged them to stand fast in their fight for more pay. Read more

The ITUC condemns the Korean government’s decision to de-register the Korean Teachers Union (KTU) The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) condemns in the strongest terms the Korean government’s decision to de-register the Korean Teachers Union (KTU) on 24 October. Read more

Turkish Airlines: reinstate the 305! Since June 2012 aviation workers in Turkey have been in dispute with Turkish Airlines (THY) over their right to strike and the dismissal of 305 workers who took industrial action on May 29, 2012 to protest the government’s plan to ban strikes in the aviation sector. Read more

Pressure Grows to Protect Domestic Workers (Montevideo) – The founding of a global federation of domestic workers is a sign of the growing strength of the movement, and a key moment to assess progress for workers long excluded from basic labor protections. Read more

Diary (see & use false economy)

  2 No to NHS Privatisation at Brighton Hospitals. Called By GMB and Defend the NHS Sussex – 10:30am outside the Royal Sussex County Hospital

4 CWU National Rally,  London Lobby of Lambeth Council to Save Sheltered Accomadation. Brixton 6pm

Bonfire against privatisation and austerity plus many actions nationwide. 7pm, Staines Community Centre, Thames Street TW184EA (beside the Elmsleigh Centre, near the bus station and 10 minutes from the train station) Sheffield, Nottingham, Barnet and more. Youth Fight for Jobs campaign to fight Zero hours contracts.

14 Barnet against Privatisation 5pm Greek Sypriot Centre N12

16 Moving Forward: Identifying and resisting the enemies of democracy in 2014. Conference organised by Searchlight Book

20 TUC Day of Action against Blacklisting: As part of the Day of Action there will be a Lobby of Parliament to put pressure on MPs to hold an inquiry. Assemble Old Palace Yard opposite Houses of Parliament at 13:00.

23 Yorkshire NSSN conference – 10am-4pm, Cosmopolitan Hotel, 2 Lower Briggate, Leeds LS1 4AE

30 Midlands NSSN conference: Unite offices in Broad Street, Birmingham


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