So we’re waiting to know if the UCU’s higher education committee has decided to call off the action or not. It’s been a tense couple of weeks – the “EPF” came out with its super-extreme and deeply dodgy plans, the UCU rolled out, the universities threatened a variety of draconian punishments, and then they began to row back. Last Thursday, as the marking boycott went into force, negotiations were formally opened.
The problem is that a lot of people hate the boycott – this isn’t a season when it matters much, and as a result, only a few postgraduate students, often foreigners, are affected. Similarly, only a few academics are affected and have to take the burden of the action.
The UCU Left tendency sounds like it doesn’t want to negotiate in any case, but it’s worth pointing out that there are plenty of grassroots members who are both in favour of negotiations, and who think that a strike would be more effective in supporting the UCU delegation. Quite a few are concerned that they would get docked for some considerable time under the boycott, sapping their ability to support a strike that would come around anyway.
Also, the UCU leadership has been a bit hard to find, right down to the local level. It’s only since last Thursday that a modeller has been available to tell you how much you stand to lose. Legal advice as to the threats from the so-called Taff Vale club of college vice-chancellors was absent until somebody cracked on with their blog.
But that said, the action so far has boycotted them back to the negotiating table, which has got to be good (here’s a good reason.) Song for tonight, though:
If you don’t know which foot to dance on, you might try signing the petition against Bradford University’s boss, Brian Cantor, who has emerged as the most aggressive union-buster among’em. You could also sign the Surrey open letter and maybe even give.