Workers across the UK erupt against cuts to wages, pensions and conditions – demand the TUC unite these struggles in a general strike

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MEMBERS of the University and College Union (UCU) at 58 universities across the UK have come out on a three day strike, starting today, over attacks on their pensions, pay, workloads and the casualisation of lecturers and teaching staff.

The ballot for strike action called by UCU confusingly split the disputes between pay and working conditions, and a separate ballot over cuts to the universities pension scheme.

The result of this is that staff at 21 universities are taking strike action over pay and conditions, while those at four others are out over cuts to the pension scheme, and 33 universities are out over both pay and pensions.

Despite all the confusion caused by the UCU attempting to split the disputes, the fact remains that the vast majority of UCU members are determined to fight for wage increases after the pay for university staff has fallen by 20% in real terms since 2009 as a result of below inflation pay awards.

At the same time as wages have been slashed, changes to the universities pension scheme would, according to the UCU, cut the guaranteed retirement income of a typical member by a massive 35%.

As well as the three day strike action this week, UCU members will begin a campaign of working strictly to contract and refusing to perform additional duties indefinitely, with a re-ballot for further strike action in spring next year.

What is clear is that UCU members are determined to fight in the face of the outright refusal of the university heads to make any concessions or even negotiate with the union over pensions, wages and an end to zero-hour employment contracts for teaching staff.

The strike by UCU members comes as industrial action sweeps across the UK, as workers rise up demanding pay increases to make up for the years of Tory austerity pay freezes and cuts.

With inflation running out of control and energy price increases making heating homes unaffordable for millions of workers, the working class has declared that enough is enough and is taking action.

Yesterday saw the deadline for a pay ballot for nurses over their willingness to take industrial action over the miserly 3% pay offer made by the Tories – the first in the history of the nurses’ union the Royal College of Nursing.

Members of the RMT rail workers union are planning yet further strikes, starting on 3rd December, on London Underground in the ongoing disputes over the slashing of 200 Night Tube train driver jobs.

GMB members at the giant electronics company Panasonic are out picketing the Cardiff plant this week after the firm revealed plans to impose a pay freeze on them for the second year running, while GMB bin collectors in Glasgow are balloting for further strikes over pay.

Nurses, lecturers, refuse collectors, rail workers, electronics staff – these are just a few examples of the working class rising up against capitalist poverty today.

The determination of workers not to passively submit to seeing their lives destroyed by poverty inflicted by a bankrupt capitalist system raises point blank the crucial necessity to unite all these strikes.

British capitalism is plunging into deep recession and is determined to inflict its historic crisis on the working and middle class.

Drowning in debt, and now hit by raging inflation, the main issue for the working class in Britain is to unite all these individual struggles into a mass political general strike to bring down the Tories and go forward to a workers’ government and socialism.

Workers must demand that the TUC be recalled immediately and forced to co-ordinate these strikes and organise a general strike.

Those leaders in the trade unions who have worked might and main to keep every dispute separate, refusing at all costs to take action that challenges the Tories and the capitalist system they serve, must be thrown out and replaced by a new leadership prepared to lead the working class to take the power and overthrow this bankrupt capitalist system.

Only the WRP is building the revolutionary leadership necessary to take the struggle for socialist revolution to victory.