Fighting fund banner


220217 USS strike Kings College London

Dispatches from the picket lines, Thursday 17 February

17 February 2022

Today was the fourth day of the USS industrial action. I joined picket lines at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and at King's College London, where we were joined by Jeremy Corbyn MP. Elsewhere, Anas Sarwar MSP visited Strathclyde UCU, Sioned Williams MS was in Swansea offering her support, Jon Ashworth MP spoke at Leicester, and Gerry Carroll MLA could be spotted at Queen's University Belfast.

At Goldsmiths, where UCU is also fighting against management's plan to sack 46 members of staff, students made their voices heard yesterday as they disrupted a council meeting. The students spoke with clarity and passion on the human cost of the reckless restructuring. Meanwhile, managers at City, University of London, offered cash payment of £100 per shift to security staff in a desperate attempt to break UNISON's industrial action. This dramatically backfired and City has just announced campus closure on Monday 21 and Tuesday 22 February with 100% security staff set to strike. 

On Monday and Tuesday, all of you in the USS dispute will also be joined by everyone in Four Fights, and in total 68 universities will be on strike. We are battling against unmanageable workloads, pay inequality, and casualisation, and we are demanding a £2,500 pay increase for all staff. As inflation hits a 30-year high and energy bills soar (RPI has now reached 7.8%, CPI is at 5.5%), the pay 'offer' of 1.5% from Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) has become a sick joke. Last week, UCU became aware that UCEA issued a 'direct recommendation' to employers to implement up to 100% deductions for UCU members taking part in action short of a strike (ASOS). I know members will collectively stand up against this kind of bullying and intimidatory behaviour. 

I want to offer my thanks to the branch officers and committees up and down the country for all your hard work in the past four days, and a special shout out to the regional and national UCU staff who have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to support members. Yesterday I mentioned that we need to continue to apply pressure on individual vice-chancellors to accept UCU's USS counter-proposals, and to correct Universities UK's (UUK) serious misrepresentations. UCU's brilliant campaigns team have now built a tool that will allow you and your students to email your VCs very easily about USS (I know campaigns are busily testing an even bigger one for Four Fights). So get sending!

Please wrap up warm and stay safe in the storm tomorrow; I will see you very soon.


Jo Grady
UCU general secretary

Last updated: 3 March 2022