Strike report - day 3 (Wed 26 Feb) + themed strike days next week

28 February 2020

Day 3: Brief report: Wednesday was day 3 of our second phase of strikes at UCL.

taking our message to USS

Determined picketing continued across the central UCL campus all morning, before pickets joined a rally outside the offices of the employers’ organisations, UCEA and UUK, in Tavistock Square Gardens.

The rally and demonstration that followed saw delegations from Cambridge and Brighton join with union branches from all over London. We heard speakers from university strikes in France and the Chicago Teachers Union. Labour MP Angela Rayner and the Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, Kevin Courtney, spoke alongside strikers from across London.

The strike march to the City of London brought pre-92 and post-92 universities together in a March for Education. The ‘old’ pre-92 universities are in the USS pension scheme, but the post-92 universities are in the Teachers Pension Scheme (TPS), a public pension scheme. The slogan of the demonstration that united both sections was “the money is there - where’s our share?!” TPS members are very worried that the government wants to follow USS’s lead in attempting to scrap a defined benefit pension. USS is one of the last private sector pensions that retains defined benefits.

We were able to march past USS’ offices in Threadneedle Street at the very moment our union representatives were meeting with UUK and USS to try to resolve the pension dispute. While we have picketed meetings at USS before, this was a bigger lobby of USS than in any of the previous strikes.

We ended the march with a mass gathering on the steps of the Corn Exchange at Bank.

A group of strikers convened after the march at Rich Mix, representing UCL UCU and the University of the Arts, Imperial, City, King’s College and others. Reps discussed their local experience and it was agreed to adopt some themes for forthcoming strike days and to coordinate them across branches. Another meeting will take place next Thursday.

Reps also heard from the solidarity strike rally the night before at Imperial Hotel with representatives from NEU, PCS, CWU, UNISON, UNITE. All unions have pledged to support the national UCU fighting fund. The RMT presented a bag of notes and coins of more than £600 collected from RMT members. Camden parking attendants who we had supported two years ago sent a donation. Remarkably, a group of unemployed workers organized by UNISON sent a donation too.

Lastly we are pleased to report that we have received two solidarity donations directly to our local strike hardship fund: £100 from the London Fire and Civil Defence Authority UNISON branch and £200 from Equity. Colleagues in UNITE have also forwarded us a solidarity statement - see Appendix 1 below.

Themed strike days next week:

  • 2 March – UCL & Race in the spotlight - following Friday’s Eugenics Town Hall Meeting, what can we do to decolonise the curriculum and challenge racism in society?
  • 3 March – Academic Freedom & free speech day - why is Academic Freedom under attack?
  • 4 March – Day of action for PGTAs - shockingly low pay, insecure contracts and UCL-branded ‘Unitemps’ - is casualisation the future for our universities?
  • 5 March – International solidarity day - especially with colleagues in France

As usual we will be picketing from 8 to 12, with a planned gathering at different locations around campus at 12 noon. Strike committee meetings will take place from 12.15 to 1.15 in the Royal National Hotel (Bedford Way), followed by centrally-organised Teach-Outs in the warm...

UCL UCU Executive Committee



UCL UCU facebook

Appendix 1 - a message of solidarity from colleagues in UNITE

“Unite London and Eastern Education Regional Industrial Sector Committee (RISC) fully supports the industrial action that UCU is taking in relation to the  2019-2020 JNCHES pay claim, and USS pensions.

The Education RISC fully supports UCU in continuing to pursue a fair pay rise for staff in Higher Education and we regret that Unite members working in the sector, despite voting overwhelmingly in favour of strike action, have been frustrated in taking action by the monstrous and horrendous anti-trade union laws imposed by the Tory government. Otherwise, we will be  standing shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters in UCU in their actions. Education RISC believes that we can be much more effective in having our demands met by  university bosses through joint union action.

In relation to the USS pensions dispute the RISC believes that the initial proposals from the employers and USS to effectively convert the USS scheme from a defined benefit to a defined contribution scheme was an outrageous attack on staff pensions and we are pleased to see UCU action is causing Universities UK and USS to change these proposals. We understand that talks are ongoing at the national level to resolve this dispute and we wish our UCU colleagues’ success in their action commencing on Thursday 20th February 2020.”