It is not too late to get a win in universities!

The dispute in British universities has been running for years, with workers from a number of unions – UCU, Unison and Unite – taking part in many days, or even months, worth of industrial action.

Despite having taken lots of action and lost chunks of pay (in some cases thousands of pounds) workers are still determined. Unison branches at some institutions were out on strike last week targeting clearing. UCU members are still engaged in a marking and assessment boycott, and shouted their commitment to win the dispute by branches voting to take strike action prior to the end of September, and to make sure they continue to have a mandate for industrial action by re-balloting members.

Members have been let down by union leaderships. The lack of coordination between different unions has hindered effectiveness. The leadership of UCU has ignored the policy passed at its congress for a re-ballot to extend the mandate for industrial action. With the possible effect that UCU members may have to mark the work they have boycotted since May (and lost so much pay over). These are serious failings and longer term it is crucial workers build rank and file organisation that can take control of their struggles.

But despite being let down from above there are still opportunities for workers to make gains. Induction weeks are a key point in the university calendar and by strategically targeting strike action at the beginning of term the effect on Universities could be powerful, especially where union branches representing different categories of staff can coordinate with each other.
This dispute is not over and can still be won, with smart hard hitting action workers and students can make universities better places to work, to study and to learn.