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University staff renew strike mandate with historic ballot result

3 April 2023

UCU today announced it has successfully renewed its strike mandate at UK universities for a further six months, telling employers that 'university staff are in the driving seat.'

In the pay and working condition ballot, the yes vote for strike action was 85.6% and the turnout was 56.4%. In the pension ballot, the yes vote for strike action was 89% and the turnout was 58.4%. In both disputes, the yes vote is up on the previous ballot. 

Staff also voted yes overwhelmingly for action short of strike in both ballots and UCU will now begin preparations to serve notice for a marking and assessment boycott. 

Tomorrow, UCU will also begin a consultation with its members over new proposals put forward by employers. 

The ballot results mean the union is able to call further strike action at 150 universities across the UK should university staff decide it is required. 

70,000 staff began strike action in November last year in the long running disputes over pay, working conditions and pension cuts. Employers made commitments to restore cuts made to pension benefits but have already begun implementing a pay offer of 5-8% that was rejected by UCU and other campus unions. Employers have also proposed time limited negotiations to reach agreements over casualisation, workloads and equality pay gaps.  

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'Today belongs to our members, who have made UCU the first education union in the UK to win back-to-back national ballots, twice beating the Tories' anti-union laws. The numbers voting in favour of action has only increased and if employers were in any doubt about the determination of university staff to save the sector, they can be no more. 

'70,000 university workers have taken sustained action this academic year and as a result have won commitments to restore pensions and end zero hour contracts, alongside further time-limited talks on closing equality pay gaps, reducing insecure work, and addressing unsafe workloads. But this dispute is not over.

'Employers thought we could not win a national ballot. They were wrong. Employers thought we could not repeat it. They were wrong again. Every vice chancellor in the UK today now knows we will win any strike action ballot we call. 

'Members will now be consulted on proposals in both disputes, and employers know strike action can be called again at will. Importantly, we have shown university bosses that it is staff who are in the driving seat.' 

Last updated: 3 April 2023