New USS proposal (issued 23 March) and EGM planned for Tues 27 March

A new proposal has been sent to UCU members, along with a message from UCU general secretary Sally Hunt.

Essex UCU will hold an EGM on Tues 27 March at 12-1pm in a room tbc on Monday to discuss this offer.

UCU branch rep, including the branch president from Essex UCU, will meet on Wednesday 28 March at UCU head office to discuss members’ feedback from across all branches. The union’s Higher Education Committee will meet after that meeting to set out the next steps.

The full proposal and letter from Sally Hunt are here

The proposal will see the creation of a jointly agreed expert panel to agree key principles to underpin the future joint approach of UUK and UCU to the valuation of the USS fund. To allow this to happen, the current deal in terms of contributions into USS and pension benefits will remain in place until at least April 2019.



Strike day#14 And that’s a wrap….of phase one. 16 March 2018

Final day of picket action and striking today….of this phase of industrial action. We are planning a further 14 days….dates to be announced.

The sun came out to shine…just as we packed up….(apologies for the obsession about the weather, but I have been standing out in it for too many days now for it not to control my moods!)

After much double-edged picket discussion…(final day on strike, back to work on Monday), some of the strikers and students marched onto campus with rallying cries, held a Q&A session for any interested parties in the SU Bar, then went off to a manifesto workshop-to discuss What Next.

Thank you to all who have helped on picket lines, picketed, supported, brought us drinks & food, been on strike elsewhere, tweeted or emailed your solidarity messages, or honked your horns as you passed by.

EGM next Wed 21st 12-1pm to discuss where we take the next phase of strikes. The fight is not over.

We’re trying to set up a local strike fund….just awaiting the bank to hurry up and processs our application for a new account. Then we’ll circulate the account number for any kind souls who wish to donate, plus we’ll pay in anything collected to date. Thanks for your donations so far.


strike days #12 and #13, informal meeting held, EGM called.

Yesterday was strike day#12. Pickets enjoyed the sunshine (for once!)

Some members went to the national demo in London.

Steve Sangwine who had been at the HEC conference in Carlow St UCU head office on the day before updated everyone (a sizeable number of members of 50 or so) on the preceeding day’s events and the discussions that had led to the rejection of the acas proposal.

Peter Patrick, branch VP, chaired an “informal” meeting from the picket line (Cathy Crawford branch President is on a UCU training course) and all present asked to put forward 3 proposals to an EGM. This has been called for Wed 21 March 12-1pm (in a room tbc still). The proposals which were later ratified by committee, will be put to the branch meeting for further approval. They are that:

1. Essex local branch of UCU join many other universities in rejecting outright the joint agreement put forward by UCU and UUK on Monday, 12th March. (Details of that proposal are  can be found on our local website:      

2. Essex local branch of UCU urge negotiators to reject any subsequent offer that called for the rescheduling of teaching events missed as a part of strike action.

3. Essex local branch of UCU urge negotiators to enter the next round of negotiations dedicated to maintaining the USS funding and benefits position as it was at September 2017, without proposing any concessions at the outset.

Strike day#13. A wetter day. Still had over 30 pickets out on lines though.

Strike day#11, March 13 2018

What a day.

So, last night UCU said there was a proposal they wished to discuss at today’s reps briefing and NEC meeting.  Read that proposal here. Picket lines at Essex saw lots of members turn up to prove that they did not want UCU to accept this proposal. This message was echoed across other UCU branches. The proposal was rejected by all branches represented at the head office briefing.

So strikes remain on. All welcome at picket lines. There’ll be an update from Steve Sangwine, National Treasurer & former branch President who was at yesterday’s briefing at Park Rd picket line at 10.15am tomorrow.

Thank goodness we didn’t eat up all the biscuit stash today then.

Strikes remain ON as UCU rejects proposals, 13 March 2018

University strikes remain on as UCU rejects proposals

UCU has rejected a proposal drawn up at talks between the union and Universities UK (UUK) to end the university pensions strike. UCU representatives from the universities where staff are on strike over plans to cut their pensions met at the union’s headquarters today (Tuesday 13 March 2018).

UCU is calling for urgent negotiations with the universities’ representatives Universities UK aimed at resolving the dispute. The union said the strikes and action short of a strike remain on, and it would now make detailed preparations for strikes over the assessment and exam period.

Last week the union said that universities would be hit with a second wave of 14 strike days targeted at exams and assessment if the dispute was not resolved.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: ‘Branches made it clear today that they wanted to reject the proposal. UCU’s greatest strength is that we are run by and for our members and it is right that members always have the final say.

‘The strike action for this week remains on and we will now make detailed preparations for strikes over the assessment and exam period. We want urgent talks with the universities’ representatives to try and find a way to get this dispute resolved.’

Strike remains on tomorrow/Tuesday 13th but “outcome” document to be discussed tomorrow

This evening, Sally Hunt, UCU GS,  has said that this outcome document has come from the talks with UUK via Acas: the document can be downloaded here

It will be discussed tomorrow by HEC and the reps (which will include our branch President, Cathy Crawford) gathering at Carlow Street for a briefing.

The strikes remain on tomorrow/Tuesday 13th.

If the document is to be accepted, the strikes could be called off from Wednesday.


** Strike day #10 plus Teach-Out plus rally at town hall ** 12 March 2018

It rained. Lots. Soggy placards are hard to wave. But still the pickets were lined with cheerful UCU members and students. I believe the VC drove by and exchanged pleasantries about the weather.

Then the staff and students headed into Colchester town centre to a Teach Out 

Strike Day #9 plus LOTS EVENTS in SUPPORT OF OUR ACTION: 8 March 2018

We had sunshine! …..and it was windy and cold! Good turnout today with some very noisy student support (banging drums and pans). Rosalind Scott, Colchester Borough Councillor representing the Wivenhoe Quay Ward popped by to show support. Zoe, our SU President was out there helping with giving out leaflets. Thanks to everyone who has been and shown their support again this week at the picket lines. It’s been wet, cold and suprisingly muddy but with a fantastic upbeat spirit!

It is International Women’s Day and we were delighted to not only see a strong female presence on the picket lines today (as there has been every day!) but to have men, women, staff and students all taking a stand together. Against those that want to take away our pensions….against gender pay gaps…Together we are stronger.

Talks are still going on with UUK via Acas. It would be great if this was all resolved. Else we’ll all be back on picket lines next week for a FULL week of strikes. Don’t forget that tomorrow is a work day but we’re still working to ASOS.

There is so much going on in support of our action:

  • There’s a strike workshop 12-5pm tomorrow (Friday) in LTB5
  • There’s a Creating Change Movie Night showing of Pride tomorrow (Friday) in LTB2 at 6.30pm. One of the original LGSM members will be there too for a Q&A afterwards. Part of the proceeds will go into the strike fund.
  • There are plans next week for a teach-out & rally on Monday from 1-5pm at the Quaker Meeting House, marching to the town hall at 5pm. Email if you can help/speak.
  • Then we’re trying to arrange transport to the national rally in London on Wednesday. Few more beauracratic hoops to jump through for this than we’d realised….

Plus we’ll be manning picket lines every morning.