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Autumn action fists

Employers agree to further negotiations

26 February 2020 | last updated: 5 March 2020

On Monday morning I announced that talks were resuming with UCEA, the employer representative in our Four Fights dispute. I am pleased to report that the meeting was positive and constructive and talks are set to continue.

After the UCEA meeting we agreed to hold further talks on USS pensions with Universities UK, the employer representative in that dispute. Both parties met for constructive discussions yesterday morning and will meet again this afternoon. 

These talks are a result of your continuing strike action - it is making a difference. Employers do not want to have to deal with 14 days of strikes. They would not be wavering and reconsidering their position if you were not continuing to withdraw your labour so let's keep going and force them to make a better offer. 

At the same time we have to remember how much they have dragged their feet and made us wait before coming back to the table. Most of the time they would rather do that, in an attempt to test our mettle, than reach a settlement that benefits all of us.

The employers that refused to make a serious offer on USS on the eve of these strikes - not even to cover 1% more of our contributions - included some of the richest in the sector. Our demands in our Four Fights dispute are not too difficult for employers to meet as I pointed out on Monday. The fact is that they simply don't want to do it. Employers think that they benefit from the marketised system of higher education that emerged in the wake of the financial crisis and they don't want to lose their power over it. 

Do not let your employer get away with claiming that our demands are unaffordable. If giving hourly paid staff a living wage is unaffordable; if paying women and BME staff as much as their white, male colleagues is unaffordable; if employing staff for the whole academic year rather than ten months or less is unaffordable - then we need to change the business model which universities operate under. We're not even asking for that to happen immediately - we just need employers to start working with us rather than against us.

I am speaking at a post-picket rally in Bristol today and will keep visiting picket lines for as long as the action continues. If you see me please come and say hello, and if not, please get in touch with any questions about the industrial action via email or on Twitter.

Finally, if you are not in a striking branch, don't forget that any offer we get will benefit you and your colleagues, too - so please support the action by donating a portion of your salary to our Fighting Fund.

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