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UCU members at 62 universities across the UK, will walk out on Thursday 22 February as part of anescalating programme of strikes over a four-week period. The strike dates are:

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)

The dispute centres on universities’ proposals to slash the benefits of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension scheme. UCU says this would leave a typical lecturer almost £10,000 a year worse off in retirement than under the current set-up.

In the recent strike ballot UCU members overwhelmingly backed industrial action. Overall, 88% of members who voted backed strike action. The turnout was 58%. At Manchester 90% backed strike action on a turnout of 55%.

Firefighters in the West Midlands are campaigning against “flexible” contracts that would force new joiners to carry out any work in any role that the service signs them up to.

It comes after West Midlands Fire Service signed contracts with local councils and the NHS to provide services, one of which was to taxi people released from hospital, despite warnings from the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) that this was not nationally agreed work.

Since then, the service has been paying non-firefighting support staff more money than firefighters to fulfil this contractual obligation.

Local FBU members believe there is a risk of money being transferred from frontline emergency response to prop up non-fire service work under the various contracts signed by West Midlands Fire Service.

It is unclear whether the service has made a profit from these contracts.

Senior managers are now frantically attempting to alter firefighters’ employment contracts to oblige new recruits to do this work as well as any other roles that the service is commissioned to do.

Andrew Scattergood, chair of the FBU in the West Midlands, set out the opposition of the FBU to contracts being imposed on new firefighters without negotiation with the union and without agreement.

“This approach of imposing contracts on new recruits is a threat to firefighters in the West Midlands and, if adopted elsewhere, a threat to all FBU members”, he said.

"Our new Fired Up campaign has gained 10,000 petition signatures in less than a week. The public are clearly behind us. We hope the decision-makers now start to listen.

“We will use every tool in our arsenal to fight off these contracts.”

Watch a video of Andrew Scattergood discussing the Fired Up campaign: https://youtu.be/j0cDhynt_wM

Sign the petition here: www.change.org/p/west-midlands-fire-service-stop-west-midlands-firefighters-being-taken-away-from-the-frontline

Tweet your support using #FiredUp

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) today  held lunchtime protest demonstrations across the country outside major civil service workplaces. Members highlighted the loss of £1.7 billion pounds as a result of the 7 years of pay cuts, freezes and caps.

Civil Servants staging a protest outside the Home Office in Whitehall were joined by Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of PCS, and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP.

Mark Serwotka said at the rally “staff have had enough of the cuts to their living standards, it’s time for an above inflation pay rise to compensate for the years of austerity. I have written to the Minister demanding he meet PCS as a matter of urgency to discuss this pay scandal”

John McDonnell added “Our commitment to you, as set out in our manifesto, is that a future Labour government will scrap the cap. Public servants working hard to deliver our services deserve nothing less.”

PCS has been calling for an above inflation pay rise and for the pay cap to be scrapped. PCS wrote to the Chancellor seeking assurances that funding would be put into civil service budgets to allow for above inflation pay rises but no such assurances have been given.

PCS has now submitted a formal pay claim for the civil service to David Lidington at the Cabinet Office asking for an increase of 5% or £1200 whichever is the greater to partly compensate for the loss in living standards over the past 7 years and a return to national pay bargaining to replace the current and costly system of over 200 pay bargaining units.

Protests took place across the UK – the offices below show some of the biggest losses –

HMRC Birmingham (City Centre House) - £7 million

DVLA Swansea - £12 million

ONS and UK Intellectual Property Newport - £14 million



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TheCostofLivingCrisis-jpeg 1

By MIchael Calderbank

Foreword by Mark Serwotka, PCS General Secretary


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Based on research commissioned by the TUCG, the book examines why costs have risen for all items of expenditure, ranging from housing and child care to food and transport. He makes practical proposals on how these costs can be reduced. He also delivers an uncompromising message to the leaders of all mainstream Westminster Parties: it is time to end the politics of austerity, an ideological project to cut the size of the state permanently.