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Eight days of strike action called in HE disputes

5 November 2019

The two ballots which closed last week, regarding USS pensions and pay & working conditions, gave the union a very strong mandate for action in both disputes.

Of the branches balloted over USS, 46 crossed the 50% turnout threshold and voted 'Yes' to take action. Of the branches balloted over pay, 57 crossed the threshold and voted 'Yes'. The overlap between these groups means that 43 branches have qualified for action in both disputes. Please click here for full details of the 60 branches that have qualified to take action.
Higher education committee has called eight days of strike action

On Friday, the elected reps on UCU's higher education committee (HEC) decided to call eight days of strike action, starting on Monday 25 November and finishing on Wednesday 4 December, followed by a period of action short of a strike (ASOS).
Crucially, all eight days will be taken in respect of both disputes. This means:

  • 60 branches in total will be on strike for eight days
  • if your branch has qualified for action in both disputes, it will be on strike over both pensions and pay on each of those eight days
  • if your branch has qualified for action in only one of the disputes, it will be on strike over that dispute only for the whole eight-day period.

By acting together, we can press employers to reach agreements that protect all higher education staff - in post-92 as well as pre-92 universities, and on equality, job security, workload and pay as well as on USS pensions.

However, I want to be clear with you that each dispute is legally separate, even though they are covered by the same strike action in some branches. In each dispute UCU negotiates with a different set of employer representatives: Universities UK (UUK) in the case of USS, and the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) in the case of pay. I can assure you that the union will consult branches and members on important decisions as the dispute progresses.

We want employers to negotiate - but we have to be ready to take action if they don't

UCU has notified employers further in advance than is required by law before the strikes begin. I am serious about using the powerful mandate you have given the union to get round the negotiating table and achieving a meaningful, lasting resolution to each dispute. We have given employers plenty of time to do that, but in the absence of proper commitments from them we need to prepare ourselves to take action.

The union is considering scheduling further action in the new year if it looks like it will be necessary to get the right outcomes from negotiations. Ultimately, we will not suspend either dispute without consulting the members who are taking part in it.

I will be in touch over the next three weeks with more information about the action planned and updates on any negotiations that take place. Please contact me if you have any questions.

Jo Grady
UCU general secretary

Last updated: 6 May 2022