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More universities could face strike action following UCU reballot results

18 January 2022

68 universities across the UK could face strike action this academic term after reballots saw staff at a further 12 universities vote in favour of joining industrial action over attacks on pay, pensions & working conditions.

Of the 12 institutions that voted to join action, six now have a mandate over pay and conditions, five over pay, with one voting to join action over USS pensions only. Some branches already had a mandate for action in one of the two disputes. 

The two separate reballots mean 44 out of 68 USS pension branches now have a mandate for action whilst 64 have a mandate for action over pay. In total, 68 universities are expected to face strike action this academic term over pensions and pay & working conditions. 

The reballots came after a number of branches narrowly missed the Conservative's anti-trade union turnout threshold, in some cases by only one or two votes. 

The institutions successfully reballoted were: 

  • Swansea University - USS and Pay 
  • Newcastle University - USS and Pay 
  • UCA - University for the Creative Arts - Pay 
  • Northumbria University - Pay 
  • Queen Mary, University of London - USS and Pay 
  • Writtle University College - Pay 
  • City, University of London - USS and Pay
  • Westminster, University of - Pay 
  • Oxford Brookes University - Pay 
  • Leicester, University of - USS (existing mandate on pay & working conditions) 
  • Strathclyde, University of - USS  
  • Courtauld Institute of Art - USS (existing mandate on pay & working conditions) 

Staff at 58 universities took strike action in December last year and UCU members are now currently engaged in action short of a strike. This can entail working to contract and not undertaking voluntary activities, not rescheduling classes and lectures cancelled due to strike action and not covering for absent colleagues. 

UCU has warned that if the disputes cannot be resolved then more strikes will take place this year, impacting an even larger number of institutions. 

To resolve the USS pension dispute UCU is demanding employers revoke their 35% cuts to the guaranteed pensions of staff. To resolve the pay & working conditions dispute UCU is demanding a £2.5k pay increase for all staff, as well as action to tackle the unmanageable workloads, pay inequality and insecure contracts across the sector. 

Meetings of UCU branches and UCU's higher education committee will be taking place this week to consider next steps and dates for action. 

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'Staff in universities across the UK are angry at having their pensions, pay & working conditions continually attacked, and that's why thousands more UCU members at another 12 universities have voted to join industrial action this academic term.  Employers, who have demonstrated super-human levels of intransigence during these disputes, have no one else to blame but themselves for the position the sector finds itself in. 

'We truly hope that further disruption can be avoided - that is what staff and students alike all want. But this is entirely in the gift of employers who simply need to revoke their devastating pension cuts and take long-overdue action over deteriorating pay and working conditions.' 

The full pension results are available here.

The full pay and conditions results are available here.

Last updated: 19 January 2022