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UCU at TUC Congress

8 September 2014

It was a busy time for UCU delegates at the 146th annual TUC Congress in Liverpool this week.

On Sunday evening Mandy Brown spoke at the opening session of the event about the unresolved struggle at Lambeth College which saw UCU members take strike action for five weeks in June and July this year. Then Mahmoona Shah spoke about the problems of casualisation in both further and higher education.
Joanna De Groot kicked things off on Monday by warning that women are facing a triple jeopardy of benefit cuts, job losses and reduced services. Joanna said that although equal pay legislation had been in place for over 40 years, the gender pay gap in Britain remains among the highest in Europe. She concluded by calling for transparency in pay systems, tougher sanctions on employers and equal pay audits.
Speaking in the pensions debate, Martin Levy drew attention to not only the attacks on the state pension but also efforts to remove other benefits from pensioners. He highlighted the folly of workers being unable to save for a decent pension in retirement and called on the TUC to coordinate work and action between unions to defend pensions.
Terry Hoad gave UCU's support to the Association of Teachers and Lecturers and the National Union of Teachers in their calls for greater accountability in the school system.
Concluding a busy morning for UCU delegates, union president Liz Lawrence spoke about the importance of post-16 education for all. She highlighted how rapid and wide-reaching policy reforms may have altered the face of post-16 education in recent years, but they have done little to improve the lot of students or staff in our universities and colleges.
She said that colleges and universities must be better supported to play their part in developing the education and training we need to provide the high-skill, high-wage jobs that we will require to be able to compete globally in the future.
Later in week Vicky Knight spoke in the childcare debate. Childcare costs have gone up by a third under the coalition and women have been hit particularly hard as they make up 90% of single parents and often rely on low-paid, low status, part-time work to meet childcare needs.
Mahmoona Shah took the governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney to task in a Q&A session after his speech to Congress. She pointed out that the labour market picture is not as rosy as sometimes portrayed due to low-paid insecure jobs. She asked how the Bank of England reflect deal with the reality of low pay and a disappearing middle in the quality of labour market data and plan for fair and sustainable growth.
Simon Renton introduced UCU's motion on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). He said that TTIP is a very real threat to our public services, not least post-school education. He explained how increasing numbers of profit-driven providers had entered our further and higher education sectors thanks to the coalition government opening the doors the for-profit companies, funding them with public money but not regulating them properly. He said that if TTIP goes ahead, it will be a green light for US education corporations to accelerate, expand and entrench the privatisation of UK post-school education.

Last updated: 10 December 2015