The NEU have overcome restrictive anti-union laws with planned strike action to happen over 7 days in February and March. Although 88% of voters said yes to strike action, oppressive laws mean that teachers and support staff had to be balloted separately. Additionally, members in England also had to be balloted separately to those in Wales. And on top of that, each ballot needed greater than 50% turn out to be lawful. Resultingly, teachers and support staff in Wales met the statutory requirements to strike; in England, teachers did but support staff did not. These legal barriers are there to diminish the effectiveness of workplace organising as industrial action is a direct threat to state interests and worker exploitation.
SFEU supports the upcoming Further and Higher Education strikes, due to begin on 1 February and to be spread over 18 days between then and the end of March. This is a welcome escalation and our best bet for a positive outcome (short of an all-out strike). This wave of strike action will seriously disrupt teaching right at the beginning of the new semester and beyond, but the key issues of growing casualization, wage theft, pension degradation and untenable workloads remain unresolved, universities need to be held to account. If our voices are still not heard, we need to get behind and implement the marking and assessment boycott, timed for maximum effect in May and June.
We also encourage individuals to organise locally to tackle these problems, communicate with your colleagues who face the same conditions - strength in numbers gets results.
IWA Congress XXVIII & Centenary
The International Workers’ Association (IWA) unites anarcho-syndicalist organisations from around the world, improving communication and building solidarity across borders, against capitalism and the state. The Solidarity Federation is the British section of the IWA. In December 2022 the IWA held its 28th Congress in Alcoy, Spain - bringing together delegates from thirteen countries.
A tenant renting with a major local letting agent won back the entirety of their “0 deposit” charges after two pickets of the letting agency. A member of Brighton SolFed recently moved out of their rented property and was hit with a number of absurd end of tenancy charges. They had entered into a “0 deposit” tenancy, managed by a third party company who were chasing up our member for these costs. Disgracefully, the company were charging a significant fee just to challenge these costs, which forced our member into paying these charges, despite disagreeing with them all.
Grading dispute at a University in Wales
According to a UCU report, the university sector has been systematically trying to downgrade roles amongst its academic staff in an attempt to save money i.e. expecting a Grade 6 to do work previously done by a Grade 7.
A comrade at a university in Wales is taking direct action in the form of a work to rule by following the published HERA role and person profiles which set out quite clearly the responsibilities of each grade. At present, rather than re-grading the role to a 7, one by one the Grade 7 duties are now officially being removed. The hope is these successes will encourage collective action by the other Grade 6’s.
The Solidarity Federation Education Union (SFEU), will be standing with colleagues this week as we see staff at Universities and Colleges across the country striking in protest at worsening pay and pension provision. This action follows last month’s overwhelming ‘yes’ vote in a series of national ballots. After more than 8 in 10 of those voting, voted for action, the 24, 25 and 30 November may see as many as 70,000 UCU members on strike.
On some university campuses, strikes by UNISON and Unite have also been called. At the University of Leeds, for example, UNISON will strike for seven continuous days between 24 and 30 November. This is all good news in developing resistance against management's continued attempts to destroy our pensions and to continue to hold back on, or not to fulfil speedily enough, promises regarding equality and short-term contracts.
Newcastle SolFed stall in Sunderland on Sat 19 Nov 11am to 1pm
Unpaid wages? | Housing issues? | In need of Solidarity?
Visit our stall at Market Square
The Solidarity Federation Education Union (SFEU), welcomes the news that workers in Further and Higher education have voted to take strike action on pay and pensions. On both counts, the voting threshold was attained (some 84.9% in favour with a 60.2% turnout for strikes over pension cuts and 81.1% in favour with a 57.7% turnout on real term pay cuts).