Why you need to vote “Yes” on strike action and FAQ about the ballot

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    WHY VOTE FOR STRIKE ACTION OR ACTION SHORT OF A STRIKE?

We urge you to vote in favour of strike action and action short of a strike and we hope that you have already decided to do so when your ballot paper arrives over the next couple of days. If you’re undecided about how to vote, please read the following reasons why you should be voting “yes” to both questions. If you’re unsure about any of the details, then the FAQ at the end should clear things up.

1) If this ruling goes unchallenged then your job is under threat. The old ethos of “keep your head down and it won’t happen to you” doesn’t apply. The current shift in education towards performance related pay (even at our own college with the suggestion of the new “surplus dividend” system) means that your employment will depend upon your performance. If this ruling stands, then a failure to perform can be based upon a single set of results and no further gross misconduct. Your performance in class will not be taken into consideration and any management failings won’t count in your favour. This has already happened and it can happen again.

2) Your friends may also be under threat. This sort of threat obviously applies to any of your friends or peers in your department or across the college. If you’re not worried about yourself, then think about them.

3) This is a national issue: if you decide to move colleges, this policy will follow you. Don’t think that this decision will only change how Halesowen is run. If this ruling goes uncontested then it sets a precedent for any college to fire members of staff under these conditions. Don’t think that applying for a job elsewhere will solve the problem, because your next place of employment could use exactly the same methods.

4) It is part of a wider series of changes in education and the college that could easily lead to more cases like this. It has already been announced that the budget for staff pay will be decreased over the coming years, and with this ruling on their side it will be easy to simply dismiss “underperforming” members of staff without any regard for in class performance or previous disciplinary records. A vast majority of lecturers despair daily about the way teaching and learning is valued solely on that final exam grade, regardless of how it’s dressed up on the surface.

So there are four good reasons to vote for action: your own job, the jobs of your friends, the jobs of other people in the country and the state of education in general. IT CANNOT BE STRESSED HOW IMPORTANT THIS ISSUE IS. IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT HALESOWEN COLLEGE, AND THIS IS WHY UNIONS ALL OVER THE COUNTRY ARE DISCUSSING THIS AND SENDING SUPPORT AT A NATIONAL LEVEL, NOT JUST FROM INDIVIDUAL BRANCHES.

    FAQs about the possibility of striking:

1) Will voting “yes” mean that we definitely go on strike? Hopefully not. It’s a myth that trade unionists like going on strike. They’d much rather actually do the job they’re paid to do. The threat of strike is there to show the intent of the union: we mean business and we want to enter into a negotiation. So if senior management at Halesowen College do not wish to enter into a negotiation, then the strike will go ahead.

2) What’s the difference between a strike and action short of a strike? Strike action is where teachers don’t teach. This could be a one day strike, a rolling strike where lecturers stay out for an on-going period, a range of strike days over several weeks/months or a series of walk-outs where lecturers refuse to teach specific lessons. All of this has to be agreed beforehand and will be discussed and voted on in branch meetings, which is why it is important to have your voice heard. Action short of a strike is anything less than that: for example, boycotting extra responsibilities that you may have.

For the strike to have any impact and be more than a token gesture of dissent, it has to actually do something. This is why the branch has proposed more than one day of strike action, otherwise once the strike day is over the issue is forgotten and the problems continue. This needs to be on-going, which is why you are urged to go to union meetings and actively discuss how strikes can be carried out. These things can be demanding but you have to ask yourself: am I willing to put in the hard work, knowing that I have the support of my fellow members and non-members alike? And what is the cost of not being willing to try?

3) Are we on strike on Open Day? Are the lecturers protesting outside college during the week on strike? No. In both cases, all UCU members are carrying out their usual teaching duties. It just happens that before the teaching day begins, they are also standing out in front of the college. You don’t need to tell your line manager that you wish to do this, it’s you’re right to do so. So if you want to join in, then please do. You won’t get docked any pay or be subject to any disciplinary actions just for standing outside before 8.30.

4) Why can’t lawyers or union officials come in and sort this out for us? Because it just isn’t that simple. Firstly, the current legal system only allows lawyers to get involved at the tribunal stage which can take months to even get started. Secondly, union officials have given and will continue to support this campaign as much as they can- and the response from the public, students and non-UCU staff has been incredible. However, the union officials can only do so much, especially without our support or instruction. We’d basically be asking them to come in and convince CE to act ethically without a stick or carrot to convince them. Ask yourself: are you fully convinced (especially after hearing of this case) that ethical treatment is at the top of the agenda of everyone in charge? If not, then the only way to make an impact and win this campaign (because we do intend to win it and not just make a token gesture) is to show that the Halesowen staff are not divided on this, and that no more sackings of this nature must ever take place again.

    AND REMEMBER: YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

11k signatures on Dave Muritu’s petition and 1k in the fighting fund thus far and counting from supporters across the country show that the nation has your back!

Halesowen branch is also in support of this campaign and have voted to ballot for strike action and action short of a strike so that we can collectively stand together and defend each other.
Your branch also holds regular meetings so that you can keep up with what is going on and be an active part of how this campaign is fought. If you’ve never been before, now is a great time. Nothing gives you a feeling of security at a time like this than knowing that there are people in your workplace who you may never have even spoke to who have exactly the same concerns and, just like you, want to do something about it.

Vote YES in this ballot, and let’s protect our jobs, the jobs of others and education itself.

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