UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt

Brexit, campaigns updates and the right to strike

26 June 2018

I am writing to update you on the latest developments and to ask for your help.

1. Following many requests in recent weeks, I recommended to the national executive committee (NEC) that UCU should consult with members on whether UCU should support a second referendum on any final Brexit deal negotiated by the UK government. This is an issue that will have profound consequences for universities and colleges and for our wider society and it is very important in my opinion that your voice is heard. More details of how you can take part in the debate and then vote within UCU will follow shortly.

2. If you work in higher education and have not voted in the pay and equality consultation please vote today. You will have received a unique link from UCU in an email marked 'UCU pay and equality consultation'. The ballot closes tomorrow at 12 noon so you only have one day to go. Your vote matters and the result will be considered by the higher education (HE) committee this Friday.

3. In further education (FE), the union has continued to reach agreements as part of the FE fights back campaign. At Hull College and Bradford College where the union is defending jobs, industrial action has been suspended as a result of ongoing negotiations. With regard to pay and conditions, the FE committee meets next week to discuss precise details for our autumn campaign for improvements in salaries. There are great FE fights back campaign resources here

4. UCU's lawyers have now sent a formal letter to the Home Office regarding the right to strike for international staff. We have asked them to amend their immigration rules to guarantee that striking will not put any migrant worker's immigration status at risk. While UCU has major concerns about many aspects of the immigration system and the way it unfairly impacts upon international workers this is an important symbolic campaign, now also taken up by War on Want. I urge you to write to your MP using our online tool asking them to raise this issue with the Home Office and in parliament. You can also tweet your MP using the hashtag #righttostrike.

5. NEC also agreed to launch a union wide consultation on your negotiating priorities with the aim of agreeing proposals for an overarching union wide campaign for better pay, status and conditions. This reflects the new campaigning approach agreed by Congress which followed the commission for effective industrial action (CEIA). The commission, which I strongly support, called for our approach to be characterised as follows: 'long term planning, union wide consultation to establish issues that are important to members, a prioritisation of resources and a gradual mobilisation running up to ballot. UCU should undertake such a process with a view to achieving union wide agreement on what narrative we prioritise.' I hope every member gets involved. 

6. UCU is now starting work on our presence at the autumn political party conference season. Our focus will be on what a National Education Service would look like - making the case that the best way to invest in education is to provide proper support and resources to those who work in the sector.

Thanks for your support.

Sally Hunt
UCU general secretary