Archive for strike

Void Fill

Posted in Biographical, Cardiff, Politics with tags , , on February 26, 2018 by telescoper

It’s quite hard being on strike when you find your job interesting and rewarding so I’ve been looking for things not related to my employment at Cardiff University with which to plug the gap in my working schedule.

I’ve found the ideal thing:

Why I’m taking part in the UCU Strike Action

Posted in Education, Politics with tags , , , , , , on February 21, 2018 by telescoper

In case you weren’t aware, from tomorrow (22nd February) the University and College Union (UCU) is taking industrial action over proposed drastic cuts to staff pensions funded by the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS). You can find some background to the pensions dispute here (and in related articles). A clear explanation of why the employers’ justification for these cuts is little more than fraudulent is given here and here you can find an example of the effect of the proposed changes on a real person’s pension (ie a cut of almost 50%). I also blogged about this a few weeks ago. There’s no doubt whose side the Financial Times is on, either.

I am not a member of UCU – I left its forerunner organisation the Association of University Teachers (AUT) as a result of its behaviour when I was at the University of Nottingham – but I will be participating in the industrial action, which takes place over four weeks as follows:

  • Week one – Thursday 22 and Friday 23 February (two days)
  • Week two – Monday 26, Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 February (three days)
  • Week three – Monday 5, Tuesday 6, Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8 March (four days)
  • Week four – Monday 12, Tuesday 13, Wednesday 14, Thursday 15 and Friday 16 March (five days)

This is a bit complicated for me because I only work half-time at Cardiff University (usually Mondays, Tuesdays and half of Wednesdays) and at Maynooth University the rest of the time. The USS only covers UK universities, and the dispute does not apply in the Republic of Ireland (though it does affect higher education institutions in Northern Ireland) so I won’t be on strike when I’m working for Maynooth University, which includes the first two strike days (tomorrow and Friday). I will be participating in industrial action next week, however, and have today sent an announcement to my students they hear from me that the strike has been called off there will be no lectures on 27th February, 6th March or 13th March.

All staff will be docked pay for days not worked owing to strike action, of course, but that will be far less than the amount to be lost in these pension cuts. In my case I will be docked the equivalent of three weeks’ pay as 2.5 days a week I work are all strike days in Weeks 2-4. Moreover, I shall be leaving the UK for Ireland this summer and the pension cuts will not affect my pension anyway – any changes will not be made until after I’ve left the USS scheme. Nevertheless, this is an important issue and I feel it is right to take a stand.

One final comment. Last week Cardiff University sent an email to staff including a link to a website that stated:

If staff refuse to cross a picket line and they are not a member of UCU they will be in breach of their contract of employment with the University.

In fact, any strike action (even by a union member) is a breach of contract. The law however prevents employers dismissing staff who participate in industrial action, provided that it is lawful (i.e. following a ballot, and with due notice given to the employer, etc). The government website makes it clear that non-union members have exactly the same protection as union members in this regard. The Cardiff website has now been changed, but I’m very unhappy that this extremely misleading communication was sent out in the first place.

I sincerely hope that there is a negotiated settlement to this issue. Nobody wants to go on strike, especially when it has the potential to damage students’ learning. But there comes a point where you have to draw a line in the sand, and we have reached that point. I hope I’m proved wrong, but I think this could be a very prolonged and very unpleasant dispute.

Hymn for the Day

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , on October 31, 2013 by telescoper

This morning’s hymn is Sine Nomine, No. 641 from the English Hymnal, and is chosen in honour of those participating in today’s strike of some University staff.

When is a strike not a strike? When it’s a scam…

Posted in Brighton, Politics with tags , , on June 20, 2013 by telescoper

Well, as the Brighton Bin Strike rumbles on it is rapidly become clear that a public health disaster is imminent. Here are three examples I snapped on the way into work this morning:

IMG-20130620-00134 IMG-20130620-00135 IMG-20130620-00136

Officially the 5-day strike comes to an end today and the City clean workers are supposed to return to work tomorrow morning, but on a “work to rule” which means the backlog will not be cleared over the weekend.

For next week the strikers have made plans for what they call “strategic action”. There are basically three groups of workers involved in the dispute: (i) refuse truck drivers; (ii) refuse collectors; and (iii) street cleaners. The plan is that groups (ii) and (iii) will go back to work, but (i) will remain on strike. This means that groups (ii) & (iii) will turn up for work, and receive full pay, but will be unable to carry out any of their duties because of the absence of drivers to drive the trucks essential for their operation. In effect, the Council Tax payers of Brighton & Hove will be paying for two out of the three groups but not getting any work in return. Presumably future action will rotate these groups, with a similar result.

People can make up their own mind about this tactic, which is intended to ensure that CityClean workers do not lose their entire income while on strike. My view, for what it’s worth, is that it is both cynical and immoral. Effectively, the CityClean operatives are planning to help themselves to Council Tax payers’ money in order to fund the strike, while still expecting the general public to endure the stench and filth generated by their decision to withdraw their labour. I began with some sympathy for the strikers, but I’m afraid if they persist in this action that sympathy will disappear entirely.

A strike is a strike, but the plan for next week is not a strike. It’s a scam.

Meanwhile, the other party to the dispute, Brighton & Hove City Council, is doing exactly nothing to resolve it. The strikers action, however, is not hurting them, it’s hurting the ordinary people of the city. It’s just a question of time before someone is injured (e.g. by broken glass) or contracts a disease from the rotting garbage littering the streets. Hundreds of small businesses, already struggling with the recession, many of which are dependent on the tourist trade for their income, will be forced under. The selfishness and intransigence of both sides is unconscionable. Moreover, the Council has a statutory responsibility to provide a refuse collection service, which is is clearly unable and/or unwilling to do.

We’ve reached the point where the national Government should intervene. And quickly.

Brighton News

Posted in Brighton with tags , , , on June 15, 2013 by telescoper

As Brighton and Hove’s recycling, refuse and street-cleaning operatives begin their strike, the Evening Argus takes an unorthodox view of the dispute..


Brighton Council pay dispute

Posted in Politics with tags , , , on June 10, 2013 by telescoper

Here’s another blog about the Brighton refuse collection dispute (by an author whose twitter handle is @socialistgreen), also asking for explanations of the mysterious “allowances”…


The current pay dispute at Brighton & Hove Council highlights all that is wrong about so many trade unions, who instead of looking at the bigger picture, concentrate on the needs of a small number of people, usually men.

As I understand it, the Council’s current plans to equalise pay will see many women earning more, but a small number of workers, mainly men, will be worse off. Why aren’t the unions scandalised that all those women have been underpaid for so many years, (and at least 4 years since most other councils sorted out ‘single status’), and why aren’t they seeking  compensation for all that pay that those women missed out on? Now that would be a good campaign!

Brighton Council are offering compensation to workers who will lose out, and maybe that could be raised or paid over a couple of years while they adjust to the change…

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For all the Saints who from their Labours Rest

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , on November 30, 2011 by telescoper

This morning’s hymn is Sine Nomine, No. 641 from the English Hymnal, and is chosen in honour of all those participating in today’s public sector pension strikes.