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Date set for university strike ballot

11 September 2023

Strike ballots will open at 143 universities across the UK from Tuesday 19 September in a long-running dispute over pay and conditions.

The ballot will run until Friday 3 November and is aggregated. A successful ballot will renew the union's existing strike mandate and allow staff at every university being balloted to take industrial action well into 2024. 

Staff at 140 universities are also striking for five days later this month. The strike and ballot come after employer body, the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) unilaterally imposed a pay award for 23/24 worth just 5% for most staff, even though it was overwhelmingly rejected by UCU members. UCU is also demanding action on gig-economy employment practices and high workloads.

The upcoming ballot will be the third UK-wide higher education ballot over pay and conditions the union has run in the past year. The action UCU has already taken has pushed employers to negotiate over workloads and job security for the first time. UCU also ran two successful ballots over pension cuts in the past twelve months, resulting in employers agreeing to row back on a 35% cut to the industry's pension scheme.  

UCU's analysis of university finances shows the sector generated more money than ever last year while the proportion going to staff fell to a record low. 

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'We are balloting universities yet again because pay is too low, workloads are too high, and tens of thousands of university staff are stuck on insecure contracts. 

'The action we have taken so far has forced employers to make huge concessions on pensions and to begin negotiating over the gig-economy employment practices that plague higher education. But vice-chancellors still refuse to use the sector's wealth to pay staff fairly, and have failed to seriously tackle sky-high workloads and precarious contracts. 

'Our members are going nowhere: vice-chancellors must act now to stop another academic year being marred by industrial disruption.' 

Last updated: 19 September 2023