DECENT OFFER NOW! – say 5,000 marching NATFHE and AUT members

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Newly formed University and College Union members on their solidarity march yesterday
Newly formed University and College Union members on their solidarity march yesterday

‘UCEA employers should be sacked for causing disruption in our colleges,’ declared Dennis Hayes, president of the newly formed Universities and Colleges Union, following the merger of AUT and NATFHE, yesterday.

He was addressing a pay rally of university lecturers outside the employers’ offices in Tavistock Square, London, at the end of a 5,000-strong national demonstration.

Hayes said: ‘Make us a decent offer and we can get back to work.’

He concluded with the slogan shouted by marchers along the route from Southbank University ‘The money’s there, where’s our share.’

Roger Kline NATFHE Head of Higher Education, told the rally: ‘When people say “what about the students” it’s disgraceful. We’re the ones who care about students.

‘When the employers say ballot, we are prepared to ballot our members when we get an offer we can put to them.’

He stressed to applause: ‘There are no circumstances where local bargaining is acceptable.

‘It is not fair and it will see overall levels of pay fall.’

Lecturers’ unions NATFHE and AUT had only just merged, and yesterday was the first day of the new UCU union.

Andy Pike, UCU senior national official, declared: ‘This dispute is no longer about funding. This is political. The employers are desperate to smash UCU before we get started.

‘They are seeing what AUT and NATFHE can do independently and fear what we can do together.

‘Well, the message is our members are not going away. Whatever they threaten, whatever they do, we are here until we win.’

Oxford Brookes University has threatened to dock 100 per cent of the pay of lecturers taking part in an exams boycott as part of the dispute.

Bob Langridge, Oxford Brookes University branch secretary told the rally: ‘We will go on from strength to strength until we win this fight. Our pay has been falling behind.

‘Yesterday, we had a mass meeting where we voted unanimously for an all-out strike if they dock one penny off our pay,’ he said to cheers.

‘This is not just about pay, it’s about restoring our dignity as professional workers.’

He concluded: ‘Support this action to the bitter end.’

The demonstration was originally called in Newcastle in support of Northumbria University lecturers who voted for an all-out strike after their university had threatened to dock 100 per cent of their pay over the boycott.

Northumbria lecturer Veronica Killen told the London rally: ‘The employers picked on the wrong branch. The members stood firm.’