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UCU Rising: coming together, striking together, voting together

20 March 2023

Firstly, let me start by expressing my gratitude to every member supporting the union--the strikes, and the re-ballot. We have made a lot of progress in these disputes, and that is down to you and your commitment to improving your daily lives, and your terms and conditions.

We know that we are stronger together and when we are united.

We have come so far as a union in the last twelve months. We have beaten the ballot threshold in two disputes--making history. This, again, is because of you.

A practical issue I want to address is that of emails. We know from feedback our emails take far too long to get to all members. We have attempted to bridge a gap by providing live communications on social media but this is far from perfect either. On this basis, we will start the process of delivering a new email platform.

You will remember that at the beginning of the ballot in summer 2022, we said we would look after your 'Yes' vote. This union has taken huge bouts of industrial action in the past--often without asking members for input over the scale of action first--and I made a promise to you that this would not be the case during this campaign. We have tried to run this dispute differently this time around, and in a way that has allowed for you to give vital feedback at crucial moments.

This has gone well in terms of delivering record levels of engagement, but true leadership is about recognising when things can be better and putting them right. The survey you received last week should have been clearer. This will not happen again.

There is also understandable anger that, regardless of how people felt about the survey, members did give a strong steer to our higher education committee (HEC) on the wish to be consulted, and that strong steer has not been enacted.

What we must all do now is come together. We are anticipating communications from the employers in the coming days which will set out any potential revised position--particularly from Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA). We will update members again when we get them. 

For now, the absolute priorities of every single UCU member must be to continue to support the strike action this week, and crucially to vote 'Yes' in the re-ballot.

We will win these disputes by coming together, sticking together, striking together and voting together. 

In solidarity

Jo Grady
UCU general secretary

Last updated: 20 March 2023