Waiting for #defenduss…

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.

4 Comments on "Waiting for #defenduss…"

  1. The marking boycott’s a very uneven tactic, but it gets results. I think, though, that all the outrage at pay docking has worked to the advantage of the EPF. As I metaphored to a fellow union activist today, an air defence system which soaks up the first wave of missiles is an _effective_ air defence system. Ditto the EPF’s ‘come out fighting’ forward defence. If we’re negotiating about pay docking, rather than negotiating about them Maxwelling our pensions, we’ve already lost. The way to win this one is to take it to the wire, knowing that we will sustain some costs on the way. Eyes on the prize. Enough UCU members are up for this but I doubt the union leadership are: I don’t think that they know how to win. Nevertheless, it’s more fun to go down fighting.


  2. Yes. And although come January we know what they are going to try and hit us with, we’re in a position to make sure that we hit them with something rather more effective than this month. That is, if we ever get the order to move…


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