A message from the UCU Solidarity Movement

We are writing to invite you to join a Day of Action on Thursday 13th August – the day the UK’s ‘A’ level results are due to be announced.

This year’s ‘A’ level results have taken on an unprecedented importance because of the funding crisis in our universities. Although hugely intensified by the Covid-19 pandemic, however, this crisis has been many years in the making.

These results will start a high stakes competition for new students – or rather for the income they bring. The tuition fees system led to this bidding war, and this year’s casualties are likely to be the staff of courses or even entire institutions deemed to be of no immediate use to business interests. At Liverpool the first wave of attacks were on staff with fixed term contracts, but the university’s voluntary pay sacrifices for permanent staff are backed by a threat of compulsory redundancies if they don’t give enough. This means battles to come this autumn.

On 13th August, therefore, we invite UCU branches and regions to organise physically distanced protests at universities where members are under attack. In London, local branches will protest outside SOAS, where UCU and Unison branches are about to begin industrial action ballots against the huge job losses that have been announced.

There will be an on-campus physically distant protest for higher education staff from all of the universities in Liverpool at 12.15pm on 13th August, to be held at the University of Liverpool.

To take part in the protest, please contact the Anti-Casualisation Officer for details about where to meet and how to stay safe: peta

We will also hold an online event, to which members can connect from local protests or from home. We hope as many of you as possible can join us (click link here):

Time: 12:30pm Thursday 13th August

This August is like no other. We cannot allow the employers to rest easy in the belief their attacks will go unopposed. UCU members have reaffirmed their commitment in the Four Fights ballot result, to stand by casualised colleagues, in defence of fair and equal pay, and against excessive workloads. This sends out a strong collective message. We must prepare the ground for active resistance, building a network that can deliver solidarity to those who need it, as well as UCU’s national fight back to unite and strengthen our individual struggles.

Campaigning to protect jobs at Liverpool

Defend all jobs

The University of Liverpool, in an article in the Echo, has admitted that 536 staff on hourly and fixed term contracts will lose their jobs this summer, including lecturers, researchers, administrators, and clerical and technical staff. Our UCU branch, in conjunction with Unite and Unison campus unions, has launched a campaign to Defend All Jobs.

Although staff on precarious contracts will be the first to suffer, staff on permanent contracts are under threat too. The university, despite evidence that it will be financially stable for the next academic year, is using the pandemic as an excuse to slash the wage bill. It has asked permanent staff to take a pay cut, take unpaid leave, or take voluntary severance (ie to make themselves redundant). If staff don’t make enough sacrifices, the university is prepared to use compulsory redundancies to cut the cost of wages, which means that no job is safe, and all staff should consider themselves precarious now.

That is why all staff, whether in precarious or permanent posts, whether in academic, clerical or technical roles, and in every faculty, must stand together to resist the mass redundancy of precarious staff this summer, and the cuts to permanent staff this autumn.

The campaign includes lobbying local MPs, Tweeting out news about the redundancies, sharing our campaign video, holding mass online meetings (see below), and socially distant protests on campus, as well as asking senior academics to support their colleagues about to be made redundant – please sign the open letter here. We have also linked up with anti-casualisation activists at other institutions in Liverpool and the North West, and fully support the call for this to become a nation-wide campaign involving all higher and further education institutions.

Meetings for activists

There will be a meeting for anti-casualisation activists at north west institutions at 5pm this Thursday 6th August. The meeting will be on Zoom and you can attend by clicking this link.

If you are unable to attend this meeting, but would like to get involved with the activists’ group, please contact the Anti-Casualisation Officer for details.

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UCU Solidarity Rallies

Two mass solidarity rallies have now taken place, on 16th and 25th June. They were called by UCU members at the University of Liverpool, Imperial College London, SOAS, and the University of Roehampton, and over 1300 members from HE and FE institutions across the country participated in them, along with UCU General Secretary, Jo Grady, and UCU President, Vicky Blake.

A statement was presented at the second rally, and 98% of participants voted to support it. We would encourage everyone to sign the statement, and encourage their colleagues to do so, here. The statement is as follows

We call on the UCU to organise an emergency online all-members meeting immediately. Further to our union’s new Fund The Future campaign, this meeting will discuss, agree and build united resistance against all job losses and pay cuts in further, adult and higher education. This is even more urgent given that these cuts are disproportionately impacting on women and BAME staff, particularly those on precarious contracts.

The battle over jobs is spreading across the country, with a different FE college or HE institution every day announcing cuts. That is why we continue to demand that our national union leadership uses the Fund the Future platform to co-ordinate a national response to the attacks.

Goldsmiths precarious members boycott

Hourly paid and fixed term teaching staff at Goldsmiths, University of London, are taking action to resist unfair and unreasonable cuts to almost 500 staff on temporary contracts, including withholding unpaid labour and marking results. Our union branch has sent them a message of solidarity. One of the activists at Goldsmiths recently wrote to the Guardian about the experience of working on precarious contracts, and their story will be horribly familiar to many of us. The article is here. To read about their campaign, and offer your own message of support, visit their webpage. We invited a speaker from Goldsmiths to speak at our AGM on 18th June, and passed a motion supporting their action, with a donation to their campaign fund

A national campaign to defend precarious members

UCU members at SOAS have written an open letter to the general secretary, Jo Grady, asking that a national campaign is launched over precarious job cuts this summer. Amongst other things, they say:

We call upon you as our General Secretary to mobilise the union in support of UCU members at SOAS and, more generally, to lead a national campaign to break with the disastrous policies that have so undermined and exposed HE as a public service. It is essential, in the time of crisis, that we do not allow the terms and working conditions of our members to deteriorate further, and hundreds of members to lose their jobs.

UCU and Unison members at SOAS are battling against 150 job cuts. This is their recent on-campus physically distant protest

There is also an open letter from CoronaContracts which calls on the general secretary to co-ordinate a national response to the shocking job losses taking place across the country. We call on all members to sign the open letter here, and share it widely with permanent and precarious colleagues.

Still precarious after FOUR years?

If you still have a temporary contract but have worked for the university for four years or more, guidance about getting the university to confirm that you are now permanent can be found here.

Getting involved

If you are not already a member of UCU, you can join us here. Staff on lower salaries / fractional contracts pay lower fees.

If you would like to get in involved with the branch campaign, join the Precarious Staff Working Group, or just talk to the Anti-Casualisation Officer, please email Peta.

Note that the new Anti-Casualisation Officer for 2020-2021 will be Alex Coupe. He begins this new role in September.

If you want to contact the branch, you can do so here.

Please share our campaign leaflets and video widely, with Twitter, facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, or any other way you can think of!

Defend all jobs social media leaflet

Defend all jobs leaflet


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