Taking action in higher education

UCU members back strikes over both pensions and pay and conditions

31 October 2019 | last updated: 20 January 2020

UCU members working in UK universities have backed strike action in ballots over both pensions and pay and working conditions

Overall, 79% of UCU members who voted backed strike action in the ballot over changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS). In the ballot on pay, casualisation, equality and workloads, 74% of members polled backed strike action*.

UCU said the overwhelming mandate for strikes was a serious indictment on the state of higher education and that if universities failed to respond to the sector's problems then strike action, affecting around a million students, would be inevitable.

The union's higher education committee will meet tomorrow (Friday) to consider the results and next steps in its campaigns to defend pensions, pay and working conditions.

Last year, university campuses were brought to a standstill by unprecedented levels of strike action. UCU said that it was frustrated that members had to be balloted again, but that universities' refusal to deal with their concerns had left them with no choice.

Earlier this month, shadow education secretary Angela Rayner called on both sides to get round the table for urgent talks. She said she fully supported UCU members fighting for fair pay and decent pensions and called on both sides to work together to find a solution.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'The results can only be interpreted as clear support for strike action over pensions, pay and working conditions. The ballots reflect just how unhappy and angry staff are at the state of higher education in the UK.

'It is incredibly frustrating that we had to ballot members again, but universities only have themselves to blame after failing to address falling real-terms pay and for refusing to deal with casualisation, workloads and the rising cost of USS pensions.

'Universities now have to come back to us prepared to work seriously to address these problems. If they choose to ignore this message from their staff then strike action looks inevitable.'


* RESULTS

USS ballot - here is a full breakdown of the final results.

    Overall, the turnout in the USS ballots was 53%. The ballots were counted branch by branch and, with four results still to come in, 41 branches beat a legal 50% turnout threshold required for strike action. The threshold rule does not apply to Queens University Belfast or the University of Ulster. Based on the results so far, 43 institutions could take strike action that would hit almost a million students (953,871)

    The 41 universities that passed the 50% turnout threshold in the USS ballot:

    Aston University

    Bangor University

    Cardiff University

    University of Durham

    Heriot-Watt University

    Loughborough University

    Newcastle University

    The Open University

    The University of Aberdeen

    The University of Bath

    The University of Dundee

    The University of Leeds

    The University of Manchester

    The University of Sheffield

    University of Nottingham

    The University of Stirling

    University College London

    The University of Birmingham

    The University of Bradford

    The University of Bristol

    The University of Cambridge

    The University of East Anglia

    The University of Edinburgh

    The University of Exeter

    The University of Essex

    The University of Glasgow

    The University of Lancaster

    The University of Leicester

    City, University of London

    Goldsmiths College

    Queen Mary University of London

    Royal Holloway and Bedford New College

    The University of Reading

    The University of Southampton

    The University of St Andrews

    Courtauld Institute of Art

    The University of Strathclyde

    Scottish Association for Marine Science

    The University of Warwick

    The University of York

    The University of Wales

    Also eligible to take strike action:

    Queen's University Belfast

    University of Ulster

    Pay and working conditions ballot - here is a full breakdown of the final results

    Overall, the turnout in the pay and conditions ballots was 49%. The ballots were counted branch by branch and, with four results still to come in, 52^ branches beat a legal 50% turnout threshold required for strike action. The threshold rule does not apply to Queens University Belfast or the University of Ulster. Based on the results so far, 54 institutions could take strike action that would hit over a million students (1,143,782).

    The 52 universities that passed the 50% turnout threshold in the pay and conditions ballot:

    Aston University

    Bangor University

    Bishop Grosseteste University

    Bournemouth University

    Cardiff University

    City, University of London

    Courtauld Institute of Art

    Edge Hill University

    Glasgow Caledonian University

    Glasgow School of Art

    Goldsmiths College

    Heriot-Watt University

    Liverpool Hope University

    Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts

    Loughborough University

    Newcastle University

    Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh

    Queen Mary University of London

    Roehampton University

    Royal Holloway

    Sheffield Hallam University

    The Open University

    The University of Aberdeen

    The University of Bath

    The University of Birmingham

    The University of Bradford

    The University of Brighton

    The University of Bristol

    The University of Cambridge

    The University of Dundee

    The University of Edinburgh

    The University of Essex

    The University of Exeter

    The University of Glasgow

    The University of Kent

    The University of Lancaster

    The University of Leeds

    The University of Leicester

    The University of Manchester

    The University of Oxford

    The University of Reading

    The University of Sheffield

    The University of Southampton

    The University of St Andrews

    The University of Stirling

    The University of Strathclyde

    The University of Wales

    The University of Warwick

    The University of York

    University College London

    University of Durham

    University of Nottingham

    Also eligible to take strike action:
    Queen's University Belfast

    University of Ulster

    ^ corrected

    † at the time of writing, there were four results to come in: Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Institute for Development Studies (USS only), The University of Liverpool, and The University of Sussex.

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