Fighting fund banner



More strike action to hit universities as employers refuse to negotiate

14 August 2023

UCU has announced it will take more strike action unless employer body UCEA agrees to return to negotiations and end disruption to graduations.

The union's Higher Education Committee met this afternoon and voted to take further strike action before the end of September and to begin preparations for a new ballot in order to renew UCU's industrial mandate in the pay and working conditions dispute, meaning disruption could continue this year and well into 2024.

The marking boycott will also continue. It began at 145 universities on Thursday 20 April but UCEA has responded by refusing to improve its offer and employers have punitively docked the pay of staff taking part. UCU has agreed to UCEA's proposal for a joint review of sector finances. 

Last week Education Minister Robert Halfon wrote to UCEA and UCU calling for an end to the dispute. 

UCU's analysis of universities shows the sector generated more money than ever last year whilst the proportion going to staff fell to a record low. UCU members have overwhelmingly rejected a 5% pay offer. There are over 90,000 university staff on insecure contracts and staff work an average of two extra days unpaid per week. 

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'Our Higher Education Committee today agreed to hit universities with multiple days of strike action at the start of the coming academic year if vice-chancellors refuse to return to negotiations. We will not be bullied into accepting gig economy universities, nor will we accept employers imposing punitive pay deductions.

'While we have agreed to requests for a joint review of sector finances, employers have made no attempt to compromise on the key issues. If they had shown some goodwill, the boycott could now be over. Instead, tens of thousands of students have been impacted and strike action is likely to stretch into next year.  

'Vice-chancellors have decided that crushing their own workers is more important than seeing students graduate after years of hard work. This is a national scandal. 

'The UK higher education sector presents itself as a world leader, but it is riddled with casualisation, insecurity and low pay - our members have no choice but to stand up for themselves. Therefore, the marking boycott will continue, we will call more strike action in September and we will now begin plans to reballot university staff so we can take further action in the coming academic year.'

Last updated: 16 August 2023