NSSN 171: All out to defend education

On 3 December university and college workers took successful strike action. This strike day involves UCU, Unison and Unite members working in universities who struck on 31 October, now joined by further education (FE) members of UCU in England and higher education (HE) members of EIS in Scotland.

In HE, the employers’ organisation UCEA returned to negotiations with the unions, but did not improve on the initial pay offer of 1% that triggered the dispute. Rattled by the 31 October strike, they have asked the individual employers to impose 1%. University workers are fully aware, however, that their employers have multi-million-pound surpluses and reserves while staff incomes have fallen by 13% in real terms since 2008.

FE staff have similarly experienced a 15% real-terms pay cut in the last four years, and have just rejected their employers’ offer of a 0.7% increase – that is, another below-inflation rise – with over 70% voting to strike. This doubtless reflects the anger union members feel when research shows that over half the lecturers in FE work ten hours’ unpaid overtime during an average week, for dwindling pay.

Many student unions and the NUS nationally have passed resolutions in favour of the action. Ultimately our interests are all the same – for a public, fully-funded education system, free at the point of use and democratically run.

This background makes the coordinated national strike action particularly positive – the more unions that can be brought out together, the greater chance of success. At the same time, it is important for each dispute to have a strategy and to keep its own momentum.


Voices from the picket line:

Jill, University of East London University and College Union (UCU) representative for part-time staff: “The strike is going rather well. A lot of people have not come in. It’s very effective to have all the unions out together – it gives a sense of solidarity.


Patrick Gannon, Manchester Metropolitan University Unison branch chair:

“The first thing I’d say, is that the strike is noticeably affecting a wider span of areas today, the impact of our action has broadened.

“So, there’s noticeably fewer cleaners and domestics going in, those at the worst end of low pay are increasingly engaging with the unions’ campaign.


Bernie Maguire, Salford University UCU branch president:

“What we need to do is escalate in January, hit them hard then because that’s when management panics the post, and the UCU national executive needs to show more leadership to fight and win this dispute.”





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]

January 18 2014 Southern NSSN conference (hosted by UNITE Bracknell) ‘Building the Fightback against Austerity’ – 2pm to 5pm, Priestwood Community Centre, Bracknell

8th Annual NSSN Conference will be on Saturday 5th July 2014 in London.


Union News


TUBE UNION RMT begins balloting today in the tube cuts dispute (03 Dec) as the union reinforces its case that the proposed axing of nearly a thousand jobs, alongside the closure of every single ticket office, will impact on all tube staff and reduce the network to a hollowed out and unsafe shell just at the time when increasing passenger demand requires more staff and not less. read more


Piccadilly Line Tube drivers’ strike suspended (03 Dec)

RMT can advise that following intense negotiations enough progress has been made to enable the General Grades Committee to suspend the action that was due to commence at 12.00 tomorrow

read more



Further & Higher Education strike on December 3rd by UCU, Unison, Unite and EIS

UCU: Institutions closed and hundreds of classes cancelled by industrial action in colleges and universities (03 Dec) read more

Unison: Higher education strike – voices from the picket line (03 Dec) read more




Glasgow helicopter crash shows firefighter flexibility (30 Nov) read more




Met Police members in strike ballot (02 Dec)

Our members working for the Met Police in London are being balloted over strike action in response to management imposing a 1% pay offer read more


Remember the dead, privatise the living

The national museum leading global commemorations of the First World War is on the brink of privatising its visitor services read more



 Strong support for St. Mungos strike (02 Dec)

Good sprits in the St Mungos picket line in Hitchin today and more media coverage. Passers by were wishing the strikers well and signing our petition, cars were tooting or stopping to give support. BBC Three Counties Radio were also there follow the link and go to 1 -49 – 14 minutes to hear today’s interview with branch chair, Paul Kershaw: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01kxqhr

RBS technical problems – cost cutting must halt to put customers first, says Unite

Unite, the union that represents staff at Royal Bank of Scotland, has called on the bank to halt its cost cutting programme in light of yesterday’s banking problems read more



Arts and media unions call for industry-wide code to tackle bullying (29 Nov)

An industry-wide code for media, arts and entertainments organisations is needed, following a report which showed the creative industries to be a hotspot for bullying, a conference of the Federation of Entertainments Unions concluded read more



Balfour Beatty announces significant concessions to 3 Cosas workers (02 Dec)

Read more


Other news

Ineos bosses urged to come clean on plans to axe jobs at Grangemouth plant (02 Dec)

BOSSES at the Grangemouth plant were yesterday urged to be honest about their plans to axe jobs.

Ineos said they would not be announcing job losses this week – but they did admit parts of the plant would close in the future “as part of the survival plan” read more


Mary Laver video nasty reveals grim truth of Government’s care cuts (27 Nov)

Mary Laver looks out of her conservatory window, watching the weather change. She is hungry, and she would like to use the toilet. She wishes she could go outside and sit in the sunshine – or stretch out her painful legs on the bed. She can’t do any of these things until her carer arrives in three hours’ time read more


ReelNews: DVDs and website videos for union & anti-cuts activists – Get new DVD – includes teachers & firefighters strikes order



International (also see Labourstart)

South Korean government warned against foul play as rail strike looms (27 Nov)

The ITF and ITUC have written jointly to the government of South Korea to express their fears that labour rights could be violated during a forthcoming strike against rail restructuring and privatisation read more





Diary (see & use false economy)


06 Public meeting to save Huyton and Kirby Crown Post Offices more from CWU

07 March to stop the closures of Sunbury and Staines Fire Stations. Assemble 11.30am in Forest Drive, next to Sunbury Fire Station more from Surrey FBU

08 Stop the Fracking Madness, Barton Moss Protest more from PCS

16 Women against the cuts in Kirklees more from PCS

January 2014

18 Southern NSSN conference (hosted by UNITE Bracknell) ‘Building the Fightback against Austerity’ – 2pm to 5pm, Priestwood Community Centre, Bracknell