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Support colleagues fighting back in FE!

UCU/NUS fists

We stand 'shoulder to shoulder' with you

30 September 2019

When I ask you, the members, to vote for industrial action one of the issues you often raise is the impact on students. Having been on strike myself last year I understand and share this concern as much as anyone. It affects very many of us, whether we deliver teaching or provide student support in a professional services role. 

NUS support for our disputes

Today I am pleased to announce that the National Union of Students (NUS) has agreed to work with UCU and throw its full weight behind both of our strike ballots. Our two unions have published a joint statement affirming our shared commitment to education and the right of staff to be rewarded properly for our important work. 

The statement recognises that 'staff are the cornerstone of the higher education experience' and that 'rising pension contributions alongside falling benefits and pay, increased casualisation and work overload will lead to a demotivated and unhappy workforce'. You can read the full text of the statement here.

Students and staff are all better off when we work together and understand each other's needs. Students are perfectly able to grasp that our employers' business models hurt us all alike. An improvement in our working conditions will mean an improvement in their learning conditions, not just now but for future generations too. The more concessions we can win from our employers, the less likely we are to have to take repeated action in future.

We must remember that students supported last year's USS strike action by an overwhelming margin. This was reflected in surveys, in the visible support they gave us on the picket line, and in the wave of highly effective occupations and protests which they organised throughout the sector. We need our students to exert the same kind of pressure on our institutions again.

This does not mean we should be complacent. Every time we consider going on strike we owe it to our students to explain why we are doing so and seek their support. Many students come to university knowing very little about industrial relations, and we cannot trust our employers to teach them. We should talk to students as openly as possible about something that will play a big part in their own working lives. 

Don't delay - vote now

If you have your ballot paper, please vote as soon as you can. Don't forget to order a replacement ballot pack and update your address if necessary. 

I am thrilled that NUS is giving UCU members such strong support. Please do your bit: give your union a mandate to win a lasting settlement that protects your and your students' interests.

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