Like a tsunami, a strike wave has crashed on the shores of the United Kingdom. As this paper goes to press, the University and College Union (UCU) with 65,000 members in several categories of staff, is in the midst of a nationwide 14-day work stoppage at 61 institutions across the British Isles. The destruction of guaranteed pensions, plunging wages and benefits and skyrocketing tuition fees are all key issues in this battle.
The neoliberal austerity agenda has put public education in the crosshairs everywhere. The militancy in the U.K. has gotten international attention and support which has deepened the strikers resolve. As FSP member and UCU activist Sam Solomon says, “So many people are at the breaking point, both students who are going into massive debt, and staff.”
If there is one thing the successful West Virginia school staff strike showed, it’s that legal or not, when an entire workforce walks out and stays out, they can win! On March 13, the UCU rank and file resoundingly said no to an initial offer. Just like the West Virginia teachers did to their first deal.
Here’s to UCU members holding out for the best.