Strike action in higher education

UCU announces eight days of strikes starting this month at 60 universities

5 November 2019 | last updated: 18 November 2019

Sixty UK universities* will be hit with eight days of strike action from Monday 25 November to Wednesday 4 December, UCU announced today.

Last week UCU members backed strike action in two separate legal disputes, one on pensions and one on pay and working conditions. Overall, 79% of UCU members who voted backed strike action in the ballot over changes to pensions. In the ballot on pay, equality, casualisation and workloads, 74% of members polled backed strike action.

The union said universities had to respond positively and quickly if they wanted to avoid disruption this year. The disputes centre on changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) and universities' failure to make improvements on pay, equality, casualisation and workloads.

The overall turnout in the USS ballot was 53% and on pay and conditions it was 49%. The union disaggregated the ballots so branches who secured a 50% turnout can take action in this first wave. The union's higher education committee has now set out the timetable for the action.

As well as eight strike days from 25 November to Wednesday 4 December, union members will begin 'action short of a strike'. This involves things like working strictly to contract, not covering for absent colleagues and refusing to reschedule lectures lost to strike action.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'The first wave of strikes will hit universities later this month unless the employers start talking to us seriously about how they are going to deal with rising pension costs and declining pay and conditions.

'Any general election candidate would be over the moon with a result along the lines of what we achieved last week. Universities can be in no doubt about the strength of feeling on these issues and we will be consulting branches whose desire to strike was frustrated by anti-union laws about reballoting.'

Last year, university campuses were brought to a standstill by unprecedented levels of strike action. UCU said 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.

Last 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 solutions to the disputes.

* Universities affected by strike action from Monday 25 November

Both disputes (43):

1. Aston University

2. Bangor University

3. Cardiff University

4. University of Durham

5. Heriot-Watt University

6. Loughborough University

7. Newcastle University

8. The Open University

9. The University of Aberdeen

10. The University of Bath

11. The University of Dundee

12. The University of Leeds

13. The University of Manchester

14. The University of Sheffield

15. University of Nottingham

16. The University of Stirling

17. University College London

18. The University of Birmingham

19. The University of Bradford

20. The University of Bristol

21. The University of Cambridge

22. The University of Edinburgh

23. The University of Exeter

24. The University of Essex

25. The University of Glasgow

26. The University of Lancaster

27. The University of Leicester

28. City University

29. Goldsmiths College

30. Queen Mary University of London

31. Royal Holloway

32. The University of Reading

33. The University of Southampton

34. The University of St Andrews

35. Courtauld Institute of Art

36. The University of Strathclyde

37. The University of Wales

38. The University of Warwick

39. The University of York

40. The University of Liverpool

41. The University of Sussex

42. The University of Ulster

43. Queen's University Belfast

Pay and conditions dispute only (14):

1. Bishop Grosseteste University

2. Bournemouth University

3. Edge Hill University

4. Glasgow Caledonian University

5. Glasgow School of Art

6. Liverpool Hope University

7. Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts

8. Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh

9. St Mary's University College, Belfast

10. Roehampton University

11. Sheffield Hallam University

12. The University of Brighton

13. The University of Kent

14. The University of Oxford

USS pensions dispute only (3):
1. Scottish Association for Marine Science
2. The University of East Anglia
3. Institute of Development Studies

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