Friday, 12 July 2013

Open letter: to break the pay freeze we must go out together

We are serious about breaking the pay freeze in Higher Education.
Some people have said recently that one sector alone cannot break the government-imposed pay freeze. Whilst we agree that the pay freeze is an unjust attempt to make public sector workers pay for a crisis that they did not cause, we also believe that a stand has to be taken and we in HE are willing to take that stand.
We can only take decisions directly on our own sector. UNISON members in HE have clearly rejected the pay freeze in our indicative ballot and have shown a willingness to take industrial action to fight for fair pay.
We believe the unions in HE, united and working together can break the pay freeze. So we are calling on those members in UCU to also 'reject' – and to vote for strike action to come out with us.
Our Higher Ed Service group has voted to move towards a ballot for industrial action in the new term, clearly calling for coordinating any ballot with the UCU to maximise the impact.
We believe we need joint campaign materials across the HE unions to show we are serious about a united campaign.
As for other parts of the public sector, we can look to coordinate our action with our sisters and brothers in the civil service unions, the Teachers unions and those in the Post office or those in the Fire brigades union who are also preparing action against cuts and privatisation.
And if we do come out together with coordinated industrial action in the new term this may well inspire other areas to follow our lead, just as UNISON followed the lead of the UCU, PCS, ATL and NUT over pensions.
The pay freeze is just one area of cuts to our terms and conditions. We believe that we will only be able to fight the job cuts, the privatisation and casualisation of our sector if we stand firm on pay. If we accept the continued pay freeze we only lay ourselves open to further attacks.
We realise that this is not an easy path but, after last year's ballot, we in UNISON learnt that a key to success was unity of action amongst the unions. .
We congratulate you for taking a strong position to reject at your recent conference in May and we wish to send a message of support to your activists and members that we are with you –  together we are stronger.
Let us know if there is anything we can do to help your campaign.
In solidarity,*
Max Watson, NEC and Chair, London Met Uni Branch
Tomasa Bullen, NEC and Chair, Southampton District Branch
Sandy Nichol, SOAS Branch Sec and Higher Ed Service Group Executive (HE SGE)
Molly Cooper, HE SGE and UCL Branch
Sarah Pickett, HE SGE and Brighton UNISON Branch
Kath Owen, HE SGE and Leeds Branch
Matt Raine, HE SGE and Birmingham Branch
* All signatures to this letter are in a personal capacity – if you want to add your name either leave a comment below or email

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