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Taking action in higher education

UCU fighting fund donations top £100K as university strikes come to an end

5 December 2019 | last updated: 6 December 2019

More than £100,000 has been donated to the UCU's fighting fund since the ballots for strike action at universities opened in September, the union announced today.

The milestone was reached as eight days of strike action at 60 universities across the UK over USS pensions, pay and equalities came to an end. The fighting fund is used to support members involved in disputes, including with strike pay where appropriate.

UCU said the support and generosity from students, sister trade unions and the general public throughout the disputes so far had been overwhelming, and would only help to strengthen members' resolve.

In October, UCU members backed strike action in two disputes over changes to the USS pension scheme and universities' failure to make improvements on pay, equality, casualisation and workloads.

In addition to the strikes, UCU members are taking 'action short of a strike' as part of the ongoing disputes. This involves things like working strictly to contract, not covering for absent colleagues and refusing to reschedule lectures lost to strike action. The union has criticised some institutions for threatening to dock the pay of staff who are working to contract.

The union has warned that further action affecting even more staff and students could be on the cards in the new year if the disputes are not resolved. Ballots opened yesterday at a further 12 institutions and the union is currently consulting with branches at other universities about being balloted again to join further action.

UCU general secretary, Jo Grady, said: 'The incredible strength of the strikes over the last eight days has shown vice-chancellors that we will not stand by and let them dismiss our concerns. The employers have shown nothing but complacency and intransigence during these disputes, but they can no longer be in any doubt about the strength of feeling on these issues.

'We are overwhelmed by the support we have received from students, sister trade unions and the general public, both on the picket lines and through their generous donations to our fighting fund. It is greatly appreciated and will only help to strengthen members' resolve in the fight for fair pay, secure work and decent, affordable pensions.

'Our members will be meeting shortly to discuss next steps and more strikes involving even more staff could be on the cards in the new year if employers fail to bring forward improved proposals. We have made our position quite clear, and we now need to see some sensible offers from the employers if further disruption is to be avoided.'

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