Solidarity with School Strikes in England and Wales

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. The result was that 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.

Solidarity with the Strikers!

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.

Grading dispute at a University in Wales

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.

Solidarity with FE & Higher Education Workers voting for Strike Action

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).

Vote "yes" in the UCU ballot

The UCU, at a Special Higher Education Sector Conference, has now set out the terms of the continuing dispute centred on pensions and the Four Fights (casualization, workload, equal pay and conditions for women and BAME workers and the broader issue of pay).

Our small but growing Union, the Solidarity Federation Education Union, supports this ballot and argues that workers should vote in favour of strike action to defend our pensions and conditions. With inflation rising, furlough ending, and historic injustices over pay, pensions and conditions continuing to prevail, the only option left to us is downing tools and walking out. To have any chance of success, this action must be both local and national and must build on the gains, small though they were, of the last period of strike action.

Solidarity Federation Education Union

The Solidarity Federation Education Union (SFEU) is a new initiative, which grows out of the desire for connected struggle and defence of education workers across the board. In our small but growing Union we welcome all workers within the sector, from primary to higher education, and all roles within the industry, from caretakers, classroom assistants, through to teachers. While some of the existing unions can be fairly effective, many workplaces have no real union presence and workers are left to either defend themselves or have "agreements" imposed upon them. Furthermore, traditional British trade unionism tends to replicate rather than challenge divisions of workers along lines of grade, function, degree of precarity, and workplace by prioritising the interests of specific categories at the direct expenses of others.