7 March: nearing a breakthrough but need for pressure remains

The very fact that the strike has reached day 8 is surprising to some, but the largest bout of industrial action that the higher education sector in the UK has seen is doing what it needs to:

  • UCU have brought UUK back to the negotiating table.
    While UUK earlier this week claimed it needed more time after Monday’s opening gambit they did finally respond to student and University staff pressure by announcing, on Twitter (a move inspired by who do we think?), that talks could resume yesterday.  Talks are scheduled to continue from 3.30pm today.
  • Universities are backing down from the UUK stance.
    Today, Oxford University’s Vice-Chancellor announced the University would seek to reverse its response to the UUK survey where it declared it wanted to take less risk in USS. Oxford now join Cambridge, Warwick, SOAS, Birkbeck and others who are seeking a compromise position. We thank University of London Vice Chancellor Prof. Sir Adrian Smith for his lukewarm but welcome statement on the matter.
  • We have the broad backing of students
    YouGov’s 20 February poll shows that 61% of a representative sample of students support our strikes. Most of the students we’ve spoken to on picket lines understand why we are on strike – if there are feelings of frustration or upset, they are generally directed at the universities and ‘the system’ rather than the individuals on strike.

yourunionneedsyouHere are some (mostly new) things you can do to support the strike.

  1. Petition for UUK to be made a public body (new!)
    A lack of transparency has been one of the main frustration many of us have felt throughout this process. One of the reasons it’s been difficult to find out, for example, how certain universities voted in that infamous UUK survey, is that UUK are not required to comply with freedom of information requests – this is because they are not a public body. If you don’t think this is right, put your name to this petition (4,800 signatories at the time of writing)
  2. Go on strike and join a picket line (not new)
    Now that the weather is perking up, there’s never been a better time to take your first day of strike action. There are 190,000 members of the USS scheme – if every member was to take one day of strike action, imagine what kind of signal that would send to UUK. Many of us have already taken eight days of action. A good outcome to the current negotiations will benefit all 190,000 of us.
  3. Even better, join us on the picket line (also not new)
    Our picket line on International Women’s Day promises to be a lively affair, as we warm up to participate in the Women’s Strike rally in Russell Square from 1pm. Our colleagues at Leeds UCU present evidence on the effect of USS cuts on women.
  4. Sign the ‘no deficit’ letter to the Guardian (new!)
    If you’ve read up on the evidence on do not believe that the USS is in deficit, then put your name to this letter.