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Members winning at work

Members winning at work

Members winning at work

11 March 2024

Recent wins showing the power of the union.

UCU: winning better pay & conditions
UCU: saving jobs
UCU: improving job security
UCU: winning in the workplace

UCU: winning better pay & conditions

University of Cambridge college supervisors win 15% pay rise

In June 2024, University of Cambridge college supervisors have won an average pay rise worth 15%.

The bumper pay jump follows Cambridge UCU's multi-year 'Justice for College Supervisors' campaign. College supervisors lead undergraduate tutorials, or 'supervisions' as they are known, yet many are precariously employed by colleges and paid an hourly rate. The campaign demanded that supervisors' training be paid, that pay packets properly reflect the full number of hours spent on preparation, and that supervisors be moved from gig-economy style hourly paid contracts into secure employment.

Cambridge's colleges and Cambridge UCU have now agreed new rates for college supervisors that peg pay to the University of Cambridge's salary spine and include multipliers to account for the number of students being supervised. The changes will result in a pay rise worth 15% on average and over 20% for some supervisors. Click here for the full story.

Redbridge Institute of Adult Education win

On 23 May 2024, UCU called off potential industrial action at Redbridge Institute of Adult Education in East London, after management agreed to demands to improve staff working conditions. Following negotiations with UCU, Institute management and Redbridge Council has agreed to:

  • end the use of zero hours 'worker' contracts and to move towards converting hourly paid lecturers (HPL) and learning support assistants (LSA) onto fractional contracts from September 2024
  • raise the top of the pay scale for tutors and enter negotiations to increase the hourly rates for HPLs and LSAs
  • 2.5% pay increase for all academic staff backdated to September 2023
  • review pension arrangements and contracts for LSAs with a commitment to no detriment.

Imperial College London members win pay rise

On 4 April 2024, members of all three Imperial College London affiliated trade unions (Unite, UNISON and UCU) voted to accept the College pay award for 2024-25. Imperial College London is not a member of the joint negotiating committee for higher education staff (JNCHES), where the joint trade unions negotiate with Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA). Instead, the three Imperial College London affiliated trade unions (Unite, UNISON and UCU) negotiate locally and directly with Imperial College management.

This formally ended the trade dispute over pay that had been running for approximately three years. The accepted offer was:

  • £1,000 early consolidated increase to annual full-time pay to be implemented from 1 January 2024
  • additional 3.14% pay increase across the board to be implemented from 1 August 2024.

Click here to read the full offer and here for an update from Imperial College UCU branch.

Myerscough College win pay rise of up to 12.8%

Workers at Myerscough College in Lancashire have won a huge pay rise following strike action and talks at Acas.

UCU members at Myerscough only won recognition at the college in 2023, making 2024 the first time the employer has had to bargain with the union. UCU said the pay deal is the best staff have seen in years, showing the importance of unionising.

The full pay deal:

  • 6.5% backdated from Monday 1 January 2024
  • a further 1% from Monday 1 July 2024
  • a commitment to award all eligible staff with an incremental uplift from Thursday 1 August 2024, which will apply to nine in 10 UCU members and is worth £1,277 on average 
  • an increase of over £3,750 to the starting salary for college lecturers.

The combined package is equivalent to an increase of up to 12.8%. Click here for more details.

Milton Keynes College prison education: 8.5% pay win

Prison education UCU members at Milton Keynes College have overwhelmingly voted to accept a pay increase of 8.5% for staff earning under £43,000 per annum and 6.5% for staff earning above that. This is a great achievement and will go some way towards addressing the impact that years of pay stagnation and high inflation have had on salaries. The pay agreement also includes a commitment to award a one-off lump sum to staff by March 2024, and a commitment to reviewing pay scales by working towards a more equitable and consistent pay framework.

Novus: 9% pay win for prison educators

UCU members at Novus prison education branch have overwhelmingly voted to accept the employer's offer of a 9% pay increase to all salaries. The offer is testament to the strength and unity of the branch and sets out firm foundations for the future of prison education. Well done to members and branch negotiators for their work on getting a strong pay deal.

King's College London: settlement of local dispute

King's College London (KCL) UCU agreed terms to settle the local dispute on London weighting, parental leave, childcare support, recognition and other terms and conditions which allowed them to end their local marking and assessment boycott. In more detail, the agreement was as follows:

  • a rise to £5,000 in London Weighting from December 2023, up from £3,500 in 2021
  • a rise of eighteen up to twenty weeks paid maternity leave, and two up to six weeks paid paternity leave
  • 20% childcare cost subsidies at Ofsted recognised providers for under three year olds
  • a new recognition agreement covering the processes of negotiation, consultation, information and dispute resolution
  • joint union-management working groups to address pay gaps, excessive workloads, and career progression including casualisation.

KCL UCU members agreed to accept this package.

Northeastern University London: win on pay

Northeastern University London (formerly New College of the Humanities) UCU branch secured a number of significant wins in this year's pay negotiations, with the support of UCU London region office. Chief among them is the introduction of an academic pay spine, based on the national spine, bringing NU London's pay into alignment with other UK and London universities, as well as securing annual pay progression for staff throughout the full range of the grades. The agreed procedure for transferring staff to the new pay structure provides for assimilation upward into the new grades, resulting in large pay increases for lower-paid staff, together with additional spine point increments awarded for past years of service, so as to address and, as much as possible, remedy historical pay inequalities. In addition, union negotiators secured a 9% increase to spine point values for 2023-24, resulting in, on average a nearly 15% increase to salaries for the current academic year. Members of the branch--already large and growing--voted overwhelmingly to accept the offer.

Barnet and Southgate College: pay and workload dispute

The long running pay (2020/21 and 2021/22) and workload dispute at Barnet and Southgate College has ended with members agreeing to accept a non-consolidated offer on pay, a reimbursement of some strike deductions and improvements on workload with a commitment to further talks in September 2023 on pay for 2023/24.

Birmingham City University: local dispute on pay and working conditions

Birmingham City University (BCU) UCU members, who are historically locked out of national bargaining, have won some significant gains locally. At the start of the pay year in August (2022) the branch was offered a 2% increase to be paid for by not awarding any increments for the current academic year.

The branch engaged in a long dispute to push back. In early discussions BCU moved its position and offered only a further 0.5% increase plus some tapered one-off payments. The branch emphatically rejected this as a final settlement offer but agreed to take it as an interim payment while balloting members on industrial action. The interim payment was made in December 2022.

The industrial action ballot was successful: 80.7% of members voted for strike action and 93.5% voted for action short of a strike (ASOS), with a turnout was 62.5%. Notice to take eleven days of strikes throughout March and April 2023 was served. That prompted further negotiations at Acas, which resulted in the branch winning a final offer from the employer consolidating a further 2.5% pay increase for the current year (on top of the 2.5% consolidated increase and the non-consolidated amounts already received in December 2022) with a further 3% to follow in August 2023. The University has also agreed to the award of an increment to all those eligible from August 2023.

Crucially, BCU UCU branch has also won its long-term objective to establish formal collective bargaining machinery through the setting up of a joint negotiating and consultative committee (JNCC). JNCC will begin to review matters such as pay gaps, workload and casualisation--areas which the employer had not previously considered open for negotiation.

University of Sheffield International College: dispute over pay and conditions

USIC is owned and operated by Study Group but is closely connected to the University of Sheffield. Study Group uses University of Sheffield branding, and provides preparation courses for overseas students who want to go on and study at the university. Students from all over the world enrol to improve their English, study skills and subject specialism in readiness for their degrees. Courses at USIC cost up to £22k per year per student. Members at University of Sheffield International College (USIC) delivered a resounding ballot result in their dispute over pay and conditions (83.3% turnout, 84.4% for strike action and 97.8% for action short of a strike).

USIC UCU then announced five days of strike action on 17, 18, 28, 29 and 30 November 2022. The action was the first ever strike to take place in a privatised higher education provider. Staff also worked to rule from Monday 21 November 2022, which included working strictly to their contracted hours, refusing to make up work lost as a result of strike action and refusing to cover for absent colleagues.

Strike action planned for 17 and 18 November at USIC was then suspended to allow for further consultation with members after the employer made a new offer. This was rejected by members and they took strike action on 28, 29 and 30 November 2022. In 2023, members were on strike on 30 and 31 January, 2 February and 3 February. Further action was planned for the week of Monday 13 February which was suspended for member consultation.

On 1 March 2023, USIC UCU members voted to accept the employer's offer, which involved:

  • 5% for staff <£44k per year from 1 September 2022 (backdated)
  • 3% for staff >£44k per year from 1 September 2022 (backdated)
  • further 1% for all staff from 1 January 2023 (backdated)
  • further 4% for all staff from 1 September 2023

UCU wins pay deal at West Thames College

On 9 February 2023, UCU welcomed a deal at West Thames College that will see a 5% consolidated pay rise across the board for 2022/23. The college had agreed in December 2022 to a 3% pay award for 2022/23, which was backdated to the start of term and paid in the December salary, subject to further negotiations with UCU. A further 2% consolidated increase will now be paid and back dated to the start of term. The deal was won through effective and meaningful negotiation with West Thames College, following a strong mandate for strike action achieved in an earlier e-ballot, and shows that there is money in the sector to help staff through the cost of living crisis.

Durham University: PhD students' pay increased

Durham University has been forced to increase the pay of some of its PhD students after it was found to have paid them an annual sum that effectively meant they were getting below the national minimum wage. Durham University UCU said it was shocked to discover in September 2022 that PhD students teaching on the institution's popular law course were being paid £15,000 a year. UCU said that this would make them among the lowest paid in the sector.

This annual amount covered the expected 1,880 hours of research for their PhD, as well as 80 hours of teaching on the degree course, amounting to £7.98 an hour before tax. This is below the national minimum wage of £9.50 for people aged 23 and over. UCU said Durham University's announcement this week that it will increase funding for law PhD students by £5,000 a year, following lobbying from the local Labour MP and academics, was a 'huge win'.

Newham College wins pay deal

UCU welcomed a deal at Newham College that would see pay rises across the board as well as a lump sum payment. The deal will see a consolidated 8% pay rise for staff earning up to £25k and a 5% consolidated pay rise for qualified lecturers and curriculum managers (2.5% increase backdated to September 2022 with a further 2.5% to be paid from January 2023). The deal also includes a £600 non-consolidated lump sum for staff earning over £30k and £750 for those earning below £30k. The union said this deal was won through effective and meaningful negotiation with Newham College management and shows that there is money in the further education sector to help staff through the cost of living crisis.

Prison education: pay and 'gate time' gains for Novus branch

Around 500 UCU members working in education at 48 prisons and youth offender institutions across England were balloted for industrial action after their employer refused to raise pay to help staff meet the cost of living crisis; Novus only offered 2% for 2021/22 and 3% for 2022/23 on pay. The ballot opened on Wednesday 14 September and closed on Wednesday 5 October. Over 50% of members voted and nearly 95% of members who took part voted for strike action. In November 2022, Novus branch decided to accept the improved pay and conditions offer. On the pay element the lowest paid will be awarded 8.4% with most members in the tutor/trainers grades gaining between 5% and 6%. The rate will reduce gradually from 4% to just over 2% for managerial grades. On the conditions element all members who work in prisons will be given 'gate time' which means they will be paid for the time passing through all the security measures to get to work. This issue is a cause the UCU have been fighting for over 20 years and is a major step in treating prison educators as equals in the prison system.

Hopwood Hall College UCU members win 9.2% pay award

UCU welcomed a pay deal which will see most lecturers at Hopwood Hall College in Rochdale awarded a 9.2% increase in pay for 2022/23. An overwhelming 98% of UCU members at Hopwood voted to accept the offer, which will arrive in this month's pay packets and is back dated to August. The deal is worth 9.2% for most lecturers. For new lecturers who are at the bottom of the spine and for Skills Development Coaches the deal is worth 20.25%, over £5k. All pay awards are consolidated. The deal also includes a commitment to creating a joint workload agreement with UCU before the end of the academic year.

Abingdon and Witney College UCU members win significant pay rise

UCU members at Abingdon and Witney College have overwhelmingly voted to accept an improved pay deal. The pay increase is 8% for lowest paid, 5% for middle earners, including lecturers, and 3% for the highest earners within management. The deal also includes an agreement that closure days over the Christmas period will not be taken from staff holiday entitlements. This gives members five additional days of holiday to use throughout the year. The deal comes after 89.9% of UCU members in national ballots voted YES to strike action on an overall turnout of 57.9%, which is the biggest mandate for industrial action ever across English further education colleges.

Croydon College UCU members win significant pay rise

Staff at Croydon College have won an improved pay deal. The pay award means those earning under £25k will see their pay rise by 8%, and those earning between £25k and £40k, including lecturers, will see their pay rise by 5%. The deal comes after 89.9% of UCU members in national ballots voted YES to strike action on an overall turnout of 57.9%, which is the biggest mandate for industrial action ever across English further education colleges.

Queen Mary, University of London: strikes over 100% of staff pay withheld

UCU has warned university vice-chancellors they will face further strike ballots if they dock 100% of pay from staff who have returned to work. The warning came after a strike ballot opened at Queen Mary, University of London (QMUL) in February 2022 over management's decision to withhold 100% of pay for staff undertaking lawful action short of strike (ASOS), such as not rescheduling classes lost to strike action and removing uploaded materials related to those classes.

Staff at QMUL returned to work after taking 10 days of strike action over three weeks in national disputes over USS pension cuts, pay and working conditions. But senior managers at QMUL said that staff would continue to be docked 100% of pay even though they would be back at work and carrying out most of their contracted duties. The university said it would;d dock 100% of pay until classes cancelled due to strike action were rescheduled and their related materials were put online. The ballot opened on Monday 28 February and will close on Monday 21 March, and if successful QMUL could face strike action as soon as April 2022.

Update, 21 March 2022: QMUL UCU's ballot over punitive deductions was successful. 84% voted for strikes and 87% voted for ASOS on a 54.6% turnout.

Update, 3 May 2022: QMUL UCU's members voted to take ten days of strike action. Strike dates include:

  • Thursday 5 May - Friday 6 May
  • Monday 9 May - Friday 13 May
  • Monday 16 May - Wednesday 18 May

Update, 6 July 2022: Queen Mary, University of London management continue to persecute our members for taking part in lawful industrial action with the latest vindictive threat to close QMUL's Film Studies programme. Please sign the open letter here.

Update, 20 July 2022: QMUL UCU members had the threat of 100% pay deductions for participation in ASOS hanging over them since 31 January. This week, QMUL management refused to suspend deductions while negotiations were ongoing and instead issued pay slips confirming that 100% deductions would be made and that some staff would lose 21 days' pay this month. London Region is providing assistance to affected members and QMUL has resolved to take further strike action during welcome week under its current mandate. You can view UCU general secretary Jo Grady's video message here and you can support QMUL UCU members by donating to their strike fund.

Update, 18 August 2022: QMUL UCU members voted to accept a joint agreement with management to end the marking boycott. The agreement included a 21% increase in London Weighting, no August pay deductions, and commitments to joint work on pay, conditions, and USS pensions.

SOAS: uplift in London weighting

An intense period of negotiations have led to an uplift of 8% in London weighting rates, increasing the full-time annual rates from £3,616.50 to £3,905.82 (for grades 6 and above) and from £3,875 to £4,185 (grades 3 to 5). In addition there will be a one-off non consolidated payment of £1,000 per person. SOAS UCU members voted overwhelmingly to accept the deal, and thanks must go to the branch negotiators for their hard work over the past six months.

Hugh Baird College wins significant pay deal

UCU members at Hugh Baird College in Merseyside have won a significant pay rise of up to 9.8% and additional annual leave from next year. The deal comes after an overwhelming 93% of UCU members who voted said yes to strike action in response to an original offer of just 1%. UCU said that the win was the result of determined organising and the threat of industrial action from its members at Hugh Baird, and demonstrates that college employers have the resources to give decent pay rises to staff at the sharp end of the cost of living crisis.  The pay deal, voted for by UCU branch members, amounts to a total offer of up to 9.8%, which includes a £2,668 uplift to the starting salary of lower paid staff and a £500 non-consolidated payment for all staff. UCU also won an additional three days annual leave per year.   

Waltham Forest College pay agreement

UCU reached a pay agreement with Waltham Forest College in North East London, which will see an average pay award of 6.1% for all staff and the extension of the lecturer pay scale by two spinal points. The union said that the pay deal, voted for by its members at Waltham Forest College, shows there is no excuse for college employers nationally to continue ignoring the severity of the cost of living crisis facing staff by offering huge real terms pay cuts.

Capital City College Group wins significant pay deal

UCU members at Capital City College Group (CCCG) in London have won a significant pay rise of 9% for those earning under £30k, and 6% for those earning between £30k and £45k. UCU said that the deal was the result of determined organising and industrial action from its members at CCCG, and demonstrates that college employers have the resources to give decent pay rises to staff at the sharp end of the cost of living crisis. 

Hopwood College wins big pay offer

Strike action due to take place on Tuesday 7 June and Friday 10 June at Hopwood Hall College in Rochdale and Middleton, Greater Manchester, has been called off after staff overwhelmingly voted to accept a pay offer worth up to 7.5%.

Bury College wins big last minute pay offer

Strike action scheduled to start on Wednesday 18 May 2022 at Bury College was called off after staff overwhelmingly voted to accept an eleventh hour pay offer from management that is worth between 6% and 6.2% overall. The offer is triple management's original offer of only 2%.

West London College: UCU and Unison agree deal

UCU and Unison members at West London College (Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College) have agreed a new deal which delivers the first pay increase staff have had in recent years as well as agreements on workload, holiday and a better deal for support staff.

UCU: saving jobs

University of Aberdeen: dispute over compulsory redundancies

UCU members at University of Aberdeen have called off their industrial action ballot and resolved their dispute after the principal ruled out compulsory redundancies at an open meeting about the university's finances in May 2024. The branch's attention now turns to addressing high workloads after the recent voluntary severance scheme left many areas understaffed.

Northumbria University: dispute over compulsory redundancies

UCU members at Northumbria University announced on 15 February 2024 that they declared an industrial dispute. University senior management has indicated that they will push through huge reductions in spending on staff, and has failed to rule out compulsory redundancies, even while insisting that the institution's 'underlying financial position remains very strong'. You can read the full story here including a joint statement by UCU and UNISON.

Update, 15 March 2024: UCU announced a strike ballot will open at Northumbria University on Monday 18 March after management refused to rule out compulsory redundancies as part of plans to make £12.5m of staffing cuts. The ballot closes on Friday 26 April 2024.

Update, 28 March 2024: UCU said that its members faced down Northumbria University management's plans to force through compulsory redundancies for academic staff. In an announcement to staff today, which comes after UCU began balloting for strike action last week, Northumbria's vice-chancellor said the university would 'formally rule out the possibility of compulsory redundancies' for academic staff.  UCU welcomed the change of position from Northumbria management and said its branch is consulting members with a recommendation to end the dispute.

University of Aberdeen: defending jobs in modern languages

A ballot for strike action opened in January 2024 at University of Aberdeen in a dispute over job cuts in the modern languages department. The ballot was held because senior managers at University of Aberdeen were consulting on a proposal to end single honours degrees in modern languages meaning job losses. In December 2023 the university's senate, the body responsible for academic standards in the university, called for the consultation to be halted and for senate to be given the opportunity to consider the plans. Despite this, senior managers drove their plan through the important university court meeting on 12 December 2023 meaning around 30 people remained at risk of redundancy and faced a worrying start to the new year. There had been widespread support for retaining modern languages with the university receiving letters from the consulates of the French, German, Spanish and Italian governments. A petition defending modern languages at the university has been signed by over 17,000 people.

Update, 9 February 2024: staff at University of Aberdeen backed strikes in a dispute over plans to end single-honours degrees in modern languages and put 30 staff at risk of redundancy. In the ballot of Aberdeen UCU members, 80% of those who voted backed strike action on a turnout of 60%. The local branch will meet to consider its next steps. Click here to read the full story and here for more information from Aberdeen UCU branch.

Update, 23 February 2024: UCU Scotland announced that staff at University of Aberdeen will take six days of strike action over jobs cuts to modern languages and putting 30 staff at risk of redundancy. The dates are Tuesday 12 March, Thursday 21 March-Friday 22 March, Monday 25-Wednesday 27 March. Members will also begin action short of a strike (ASOS) including working to contract and not rescheduling classes cancelled as part of strike action. On Monday 26 February (17:30) there will be a public rally at New King's Building to 'Save Modern Languages', organised by the University of Aberdeen UCU branch and Aberdeen University Students' Association.

Update, 8 March 2024: Strike action by University of Aberdeen UCU members has been called off as the university withdrew the threat of compulsory redundancies from 26 members of staff.

University of East Anglia: no compulsory redundancies

University of East Anglia's threats to make compulsory redundancies across the workforce, announced in January 2023, have been followed by silence from university management. After a 700-strong all-staff meeting called by UCU, UNISON and Unite, no plans to avoid redundancies have been tabled by UEA. The unions' requests for financial information and university expenditure have not been answered. UEA UCU branch are preparing campaigning activity under the banner of a dispute to save all jobs and to challenge the lack of clear plans and information. Support amongst the local and wider community is building; messages of solidarity can be sent to the branch via UEA UCU's Twitter account.

Update, 31 May 2023: UEA UCU held a statutory industrial action ballot over the redundancies dispute. On a turnout of 57.3%, 84.4% of UEA UCU members are prepared to take part in strike action and 83.8% say they are prepared to take part in action short of a strike (ASOS). The UEA UCU branch will determine the next steps.

Update, 8 June 2023: UEA has recently announced that over 200 staff are at risk of redundancy with a target of 113 redundancies remaining. This is despite having lost over 100 jobs via voluntary severance and many more as a result of vacancies and planned posts being removed since January 2023. Staff are once again having to pay the price for the failure of senior leadership. The local UCU branch has just smashed the threshold for strike action and discussions have already begun on how they can take effective industrial action to resist the cuts and save jobs. Branches are encouraged to pass motions in support of UEA staff (template available here) and donate to the UEA UCU hardship fund. For further details, please email UEA UCU branch

Update, 22 June 2023: Having announced 77 redundancies across professional services earlier this month, UEA announced details of its academic redundancies this week. 86% of these cuts fall in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, with 31 jobs set to be cut.

Update, 22 September 2023: Members at University of East Anglia (UEA) voted to end the dispute with the employer following a guarantee from management that there would be no compulsory redundancies made as a result of the current savings proposals. It has taken nearly nine months to arrive at this position in a bitter dispute that resulted in the departure of the previous vice-chancellor, strike action, and the threat of significant further action at the start of term. This is a magnificent victory for UEA UCU members, although one tempered by the number of fantastic colleagues who have left UEA on a voluntary basis over the past few months. UEA UCU wishes to thank all members and branches that have offered support this year and would welcome requests for support from any branch suffering similar threats of redundancy. If they come for one of us, they come for all of us.

Goldsmiths, University of London: redundancies and global academic boycott

On 2 August 2022, UCU announced that its members at Goldsmiths have voted to approve a deal with management which brings to an end a ten month-long dispute over redundancies. The initial dispute was over attempts by Goldsmiths senior management to sack 46 staff as part of a 'recovery plan' agreed in a deal with Natwest and Lloyds Banks.  

As part of the agreement to end the dispute, Goldsmiths senior management have committed to: no further compulsory redundancies; reviewing the use and management of fixed term contracts at the university; protection from redundancy for three years for staff who have already been moved internally to new roles; and enhanced severance for the staff who have already been made redundant.  

Goldsmiths staff have in turn decided to end the marking and assessment boycott, and will return to marking work across a phased three week period, while UCU has revoked its grey-listing of the institution.  

Goldsmiths UCU will focus on fighting for the reinstatement of Professor Des Freedman and Dr Gholam Khiabany as Head and Deputy Head of the Department of Media, Communications, and Cultural Studies, after they were suspended for simply informing students about the potential impact of the marking boycott. Please sign this open letter calling for Goldsmiths management to reinstate Des Freedman and Gholam Khiabany.

University of Sussex: no compulsory redundancies

The University Executive Group (UEG) at the University of Sussex refused to rule out compulsory redundancies as part of a widely criticised Size and Shape programme. University of Sussex UCU branch declared a dispute. Following more than six months of continuing negotiations between UCU and UEG a number of actions have been agreed; the dispute has been resolved and there will be no compulsory redundancies as a result of the Size and Shape programme. UEG has now moved forward into implementing the changes with the intention that the Size and Shape Programme will formally conclude by August 2022.

University of Kent: marking boycott wins no compulsory redundancies deal

For the third year running University of Kent UCU have defended against all job cuts. Members balloted four months in advance of 'reviews' of Arts and Humanities subjects and launched a successful marking boycott. The willingness of members to take decisive action backed up by an all-women and non-binary lay negotiating team at Kent UCU have secured a significant victory: no compulsory redundancy processes in the calendar year 2022. To learn how they won and share experiences on how to save jobs, email Kent UCU president Claire Hurley.

Havant and South Downs College dispute: agreement reached

UCU members at Havant and South Downs College, along with colleagues in NEU, have now settled their trade dispute with college management. HSDC agreed to the demands of UCU to halt the redundancies in summer 2021. UCU and NEU engaged in negotiations with the college, which led to an agreement to full disclosure of financial information, and improvements in college policies and procedures. 74.2% of UCU members supported the agreement in a ballot.

    University of Leicester redundancies

    Following negotiations between Leicester UCU and the University of Leicester, an agreement has been reached that has ended the local dispute between the university and UCU concerning the Shaping for Excellence Programme.

    Leicester UCU members have voted to accept an agreement which can be seen here. Consequently, the Higher Education Committee officers of UCU have, following representations on behalf of the branch, agreed to cease the censure and academic boycott of the University of Leicester.

    The agreement commits to no compulsory redundancies as a result of phase 2 of the Shaping for Excellence Programme. The executive board has agreed to rule out beginning any further restructuring leading to collective compulsory redundancies until January 2023. The agreement also sets out a number of joint actions that will be taken forward to achieve an increased focus on partnership working.

    Although the national dispute is ongoing, we are pleased to be able to jointly announce that our local dispute has now ended.

    University of Chester job cuts

    Negotiations continue with the university regarding the final four people left on the list of 86 as notified on the section 188 notice in February 2021. No compulsory redundancy notices have been issued and we expect that the remaining four will be redeployed or allowed to leave under a voluntary severance package. In which case the dispute will have been successfully resolved.

    Bangor University UCU avoids compulsory redundancies

    Bangor University UCU has ended a protracted and difficult restructuring that lasted nine months, and managed to close the consultation without any compulsory redundancies. The branch also got some important concessions out of the university on their future working relationship.

    University of Liverpool: striking for jobs and vital Covid-19 research

    The long-running dispute at University of Liverpool has ended as UCU won the battle to avoid any compulsory redundancies. The six-month campaign had already resulted in an international academic boycott, 24 days of industrial action, and a marking boycott against plans that would have originally seen 47 jobs lost in Liverpool's faculty of health and life sciences. Five additional days of industrial action were planned, starting on Monday 4 October, but are now cancelled. Congratulations to University of Liverpool UCU branch committee, UCU members, and our regional officials in North West England.

    New City College: restructuring redundancies and redeployments

    Members at New City College have been in dispute since May 2021 over a restructure of supported learning following the failure of the college to rule out compulsory redundancies and detrimental changes to pay and contracts. UCU ran a consultative e-ballot of members with 95% voting YES for strike action on a 60% turnout. Following collective organising to resist compulsory redundancies, and after many hours of negotiations, the employer has confirmed that there will be zero compulsory redundancies. UCU remains opposed to some aspects of the restructure and will continue to campaign for a better deal for supported learning staff and students.

    UCU: improving job security

    University of Sheffield UCU achieve vital anti-casualisation win

    Members of University of Sheffield UCU have won a new and significantly more secure contract for graduate teaching assistants (GTAs). This agreement will see zero-hour contracts being replaced by fixed-term, guaranteed-hours contracts, which will enable postgraduate researchers to access full employment rights and the employer's rewards and recognition scheme. The branch now enters into negotiations around minimum lengths for fixed-term contracts and the development of a framework that will see permanent employment become the default for research and/or teaching staff. You can read more about this agreement here.

    University of Sussex UCU win huge pay rise for doctoral tutors

    Following an intense and sustained period of organising, campaigning, and negotiating, members of University of Sussex UCU have secured an agreement on a new contract for postgraduate researchers who are contracted to teach (doctoral tutors). This deal meets all five of their key demands--most notably, a new workload allocation model which will result in significant pay rises for many members. Read more about how this win was achieved here.

    University of Bath: ground-breaking anti-casualisation agreement

    University of Bath UCU has signed a ground-breaking agreement on a range of anti-casualisation issues with their employer. The agreement will benefit 286 staff immediately with a further 181 gaining in the following two years. Here are just a couple of the highlights:

    • the agreement commits to offering all postgraduate researchers who teach (GTAs) at least 0.1 FTE, a fractional salaried post with a commitment to working towards extending this to those on less than 0.1 FTE
    • in a genuinely ground-breaking approach (and one that UCU have been campaigning for) three pilots will be launched where all members of research groups will be moved onto open-ended contracts, with a timeline to see further roll-outs following evaluations of the initial pilots (one is already up and running). If the pilots are successful, the agreement commits to a roll-out of this approach in 2024/25. This would be a first in the higher education sector and its importance cannot be over-stated.

    Congratulations to Bath UCU and to all those involved in the negotiations that secured this agreement, including the fantastic local team and UCU South West England regional support official, Catriona Scott.

    Sheffield Hallam University: end of zero-hour contracts for associate lecturers

    On 10 March 2023, UCU declared a significant win against casualisation after Sheffield Hallam University agreed to move associate lecturers off zero-hour contracts.

    An overwhelming 96% of members polled have endorsed a negotiated settlement that will see all associate lecturers moved off of zero-hour contracts, with those who are employed for more than 8 consecutive weeks moved onto fixed-term contracts. Associate lecturers are staff specifically employed either to cover the short term absences of other colleagues or to cover unforeseen or urgent short-term additional teaching needs.

    The union said that although this does not end casualisation at the university, it goes a long way to addressing the insecurity of zero-hour contracts and inequalities between associate lecturers and other members of academic staff.

    Open University: permanent contracts for 4,800 previously casualised associate lecturers

    On 2 August 2022, UCU hailed a landmark win as The Open University (OU) began rolling out a programme of new permanent contracts for 4,800 previously casualised associate lecturers, the biggest decasualisation programme ever to take place in the UK higher education sector. As a result of the new contracts, which were introduced on 1 August 2022, staff will benefit from enhanced job security, a pay uplift of between 10-15%, additional annual leave, and staff development allowances. 

    Royal College of Art wins deal

    Mounting frustration of members at the RCA culminated in a resounding call for action to end insecurity and unacceptable terms and conditions at the college. Ill-conceived plans to change all MAs from 2 years to a 12-month rolling programme and to scrap enhanced statutory redundancy procedures for academics are also being resisted.  Members overwhelmingly voted for strike action in an industrial action ballot with 82.8% for strike action and 93.1% for action short of a strike on an excellent turnout of 63%. The RCA were served with formal notice of 14 days of strike action in October and November 2021.

    In subsequent talks being held under the auspices of Acas, the branch were left stunned by comments from the RCA which confirmed that some academics employed by the college would not be granted dedicated research time because of their part-time status. UCU said this was clearly discriminatory. Basic and fundamental employment rights were also not deemed to be compatible with pedagogical imperatives and new academics would;d not be sufficiently qualified to undertake summative assessment. UCU believed the RCA's ability to provide a high standard of assessment was under threat and 'the argument that the curriculum is so fluid that it requires no employment rights is disingenuous' adding that 'it's time for the RCA to take these negotiations seriously'.

    Update, January 2022: the last round of Acas negotiations was eventually arranged for 13 December 2021. This was almost two months since the previous Acas meeting and the parties broke up without any agreement, with UCU representatives disappointed by the RCA's inability to respond on the day to issues flagged in advance for negotiation. RCA sent responses to outstanding issues just before Christmas 2021 which could only be fully reviewed by branch negotiators on 11 January 2022. From initial readings, the branch are pleased to see movement on two of the three outstanding issues and hope to resolve the dispute to the satisfaction of members as quickly as possible.

    Update, February 2022: RCA UCU were on strike as part of the Four Fights campaign on Monday 21 and Tuesday 22 February, and back on strike for the local dispute from Monday 28 February to Wednesday 2 March. RCA senior management failed to meet the agreed deadline for providing a draft agreement. This failure to deliver reneged on the commitment they made in Acas.

    Update, March 2022: RCA UCU achieved victory against casualisation and workload following industrial action. The final agreement would be put to a members' vote. 

    Update, May 2022: UCU members at the Royal College of Art (RCA) today announced that they have voted to accept recognition from the employer as part of a resolution to a long-running dispute, which has seen 41 days of strike action take place since 2020. The UCU RCA branch overwhelmingly voted to adopt a deal negotiated with college management which includes:  

    • full employment rights for all 
    • no more zero-hour contracts  
    • new routes to permanent contracts 
    • caps on teaching workloads for staff.

    UCU: winning in the workplace

    South West Durham Training (SWDT): recognition agreement signed

    In May 2024, UCU signed a recognition agreement with private training provider South West Durham Training (SWDT), which is a subsidiary of Bishop Auckland College. The deal comes after years of organising by UCU members at the provider, including recruiting over half the teaching staff to the union.

    The recognition agreement means UCU is the only union able to bargain on behalf of teaching staff at SWDT, and will allow it to enter into formal negotiations with management over pay, working conditions and holiday entitlement. It also means SWDT UCU representatives will be given funded time to conduct union activities.

    University of the Highlands and Islands: joint recognition agreement signed

    In February 2024, UCU and the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) signed a trade union recognition and procedural agreement establishing arrangements for information, consultation, and negotiation on employment matters. Congratulations to UHI UCU branch and colleagues in UCU Scotland for their hard work. You can read the full joint press release here.

    Falmouth University: dispute over two-tier workforce

    In June 2023, UCU welcomed Falmouth University's decision to bring on-campus academic staff in-house from Tuesday 1 August 2023. The move means staff will automatically be enrolled onto the Teachers' Pension Scheme (TPS), which has employer contributions of 23.6%. UCU said that other employers should look to Falmouth and make sure their staff can access the sector's leading pension schemes. All new campus-based academic jobs will also be employed directly through the university, rather than a subsidiary company. The decision brings a long-running dispute to an end with Falmouth UCU members overwhelmingly voting to resolve the dispute and work constructively with management going forward. Click here for a video message from UCU general secretary Jo Grady.

    Below is a summary of key events in this dispute:

    • an industrial action ballot opened at Falmouth University on Monday 11 July 2022 and ran until Friday 19 August 2022. The ballot aimed to stop management creating a two-tier workforce using a wholly owned subsidiary company, with worse terms and conditions, which threatened national bargaining agreements made between UCU and universities
    • July 2022: Falmouth members were angered to read the new vice-chancellor trying to defend the use of Falmouth Staffing Ltd to employ new academics on inferior contracts in an all-staff email. Falmouth University UCU continued its 'get the vote out' efforts to fight against 'subcos' in higher education to defend national agreements in the post-92 sector
    • August 2022:  90% of Falmouth University UCU members who voted said YES to strike action to resolve a long-running dispute involving the creation of a two-tier workforce. Members smashed the threshold with a turnout of 62% to stop the privatisation of the university. Academic staff had been employed by 'Falmouth Staffing Ltd' since September 2021 and with it, the loss of access to the Teachers' Pension Scheme (TPS). Members would not stand by and watch the erosion of nationally agreed terms and conditions.
    • October 2022: Staff walked out from Monday 17 to Wednesday 19 October.

    University of Cambridge: UCU wins historic recognition deal

    University of Cambridge has finally agreed to recognise the union. UCU general secretary Jo Grady has signed the recognition agreement on 10 March 2023 and the university is set to ratify it imminently.

    The recognition agreement comes whilst UCU has been re-balloting its members at the University of Cambridge and 149 other universities across the UK in its ongoing pay, working conditions and pension dispute.

    Cambridge had been an outlier in higher education, as one of the only UK universities not to recognise UCU. The recognition agreement means the union will now be able to enter into formal negotiations with management, have a guaranteed membership in governance committees, conduct independent health and safety inspections, and offer members paid time off for essential union activities. It covers staff in all UCU bargaining groups, including academic, academic-related, research and professional services staff.

    Sussex International Study Centre: staff won union recognition

    Members at our newest branch, Sussex International Study Centre, began a statutory recognition ballot on 6 December 2021. The employer continually resisted our positive approaches and refused a voluntary agreement; they spent £1000s on expensive lawyers and consultants rather than recognise UCU. On 22 December 2021, UCU members won the statutory recognition ballot with a turnout of 74%, and 95% of those voting supported the proposal that UCU be recognised for the purposes of collective bargaining with the employer.

    United Colleges Group: contract dispute resolved

    Following a fantastic ballot result and the threat of strike action, UCG members have now voted overwhelmingly to approve a new harmonised contract and a Collective Agreement to end the long-running contract dispute.

    Members at both UCG colleges - the City of Westminster College and the College of North West London - have been fighting against imposed changes to contractual terms and conditions, including cuts to tutor remission throughout 2021. In April 2021 UCU members voted overwhelmingly for strike action over changes to agreed contracts imposed by management that would have seen workloads increase. 99% of UCU members who voted said they were prepared to take strike action. 100% of members who voted said they were prepared to take action short of strike.

    Intensive negotiations took place between UCU negotiators and UCG management over recent months leading to an in principle agreement being reached. UCU members have approved a revised harmonised contract (incorporating CPD remission for all teaching staff and additional remission for tutorials) and a Collective Agreement. This harmonised contract is intended to apply to all full-time and fractional teaching/lecturing staff (except those who choose to remain on legacy contracts). A number of other matters raised during the negotiations with the employer such as TOIL and summer leave periods are included in the Collective Agreement. In relation to hourly-paid lecturers, the employer has agreed to maintain your existing contracts and the historical arrangements around payment for tutor groups and CPD for HPLs. This victory was only made possible by the tremendous support members gave to UCU during the dispute and as a consequence of the industrial action ballot result mandate provided by members. The strength of feeling from members directly contributed to the employer entering into meaningful negotiations with UCU. Special thanks to the branch officers who have worked tirelessly to secure this outcome for members.

    Birmingham City University: health and safety concerns

    Birmingham City University UCU was in dispute over failure to agree on on-site learning under Covid-19, and in January 2021 won their industrial ballot to take action. The employer scheduled several open days to take place on campus which members had real concerns about being required to attend. The employer announced a three-week extension of the deadline for students to submit end-of-year assessments, but did not similarly extended the marking deadlines for staff. Action short of a strike began on 8 June 2021, and consisted of: refusing to attend on-site and instead moving online all non-essential activity that can be carried out online, including open days; and working to contractual hours only. The dispute had been resolved.

    Novus prison education: Covid-19 safety dispute

    Following an extended period of industrial action, a deal has been reached to end the dispute over health & safety issues at Novus prisons.

    Royal Holloway, University of London

    The senior management team (SMT) at Royal Holloway, University of London (RHUL) recently proposed changes to academic staffing levels as part of a so-called 'academic realignment exercise', which was presented as an element of the college's three-year strategic plan. A number of academics were identified as having their jobs at risk. The branch were successful in getting the college to confirm there were no plans for organisational change and that they would abide by the current policies. The college may still suggest wording for a change to the redundancy policy but this was a successful push-back by UCU members. 

    Northumbria University: safe work win

    Congratulations to Northumbria University branch of UCU who have used their successful industrial action ballot as the leverage to secure an agreement with management that anyone who is uncomfortable with returning to the campus can continue to work remotely.

    Last updated: 12 June 2024