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HE national disputes 2021

Four Fights and USS disputes: strike action resumes on Monday

18 February 2022

On Monday 21 and Tuesday 22 February, 68 UCU branches will be on strike across two disputes: the Four Fights dispute on pay, casualisation, workload and equality, and the dispute over cuts to USS pensions.  

The action in the Four Fights dispute will continue the following week from Monday 28 February, culminating in a massive day of joint action with the NUS and students from all over the UK on Wednesday 2 March. 

USS: results of employer consultation on our proposals coming soon 

As you will remember from my recent emails, the employer representative Universities UK (UUK) has consulted USS employers over the past week, including your employer, on whether to accept UCU's proposals for resolving the dispute. That consultation has now closed and we will let you know the results as soon as Universities UK make them available.

Four Fights: employers can meet our demands

The cost of living crisis has been brewing for months, and the latest figure for RPI inflation has climbed as high as 7.8%. That means that employers have cut staff pay by over a quarter relative to inflation since 2009. 

There are more students than ever in higher education and the sector's finances are strong. Despite that, employers' investment in staff has not gone up by any metric--not just in terms of pay but also in terms of job security and action over inequality and unsustainable workloads, too. 

The employers' representative body, Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), continues to refuse to meet UCU for meaningful negotiations. We are dealing with employers who are absolutely unscrupulous and who are doubling down on a damaging and inhumane business model. We have tried every approach and I am absolutely confident that employers will not make substantial concessions without further strike action, with every member playing the fullest possible part. 

I have been up and down the UK visiting picket lines for this week's action over USS and I know there will be thousands and thousands of UCU members on picket lines again on Monday and Tuesday. Please visit our HE disputes pages to follow and join in with the action via social media and find out anything you need to know. 

Finally, if your branch is not on strike, please don't forget to donate whatever you can to UCU's fighting fund to support members in striking branches who are taking action in defence of you and all other staff throughout the sector. 


Jo Grady
UCU general secretary

Last updated: 3 March 2022