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Support striking colleagues: donate to the UCU fighting fund

Colleagues who can afford to do so are asked to consider a donation to the UCU fighting fund. Donations to the fund are spent on supporting members involved in important disputes. As always, members are asked to only contribute whatever their circumstances allow. Any amount will be gratefully received by members taking action.


Helping hand

Your support is needed

11 March 2024

UCU is determined to resist the current wave of job cuts and attacks on working conditions taking place in post-16 education throughout the UK and these campaigns are asking for your support.

    Aston University: redundancy threat

    Around 60 academics in the college of engineering and physical sciences have been told they are at risk of redundancy at Aston University due to a proposal to close some chemistry programmes and rearrange many of the departments. As part of the fight against redundancies, Aston UCU has forced the University into extending the consultation period, and will continue to campaign with the aim of removing all threats of compulsory redundancy.

    Coventry Adult Education Service: stop the cuts

    Coventry City Council is proposing drastic cuts to services which threaten our members' jobs in adult education as well as opportunities for the people of Coventry. Reductions to central government funding have left the council looking to make savings by proposing to scrap centre creches and cut back on key staff. Please send messages of support to our Coventry Adult and Community Education (ACE) branch who are calling on the council to reverse the proposals.

    Education and Training Collective: strike action over low pay

    Staff at Bede Sixth Form College, NETA Training Group, Stockton Riverside College, The Skills Academy and Redcar and Cleveland College--all of which are part of employer group Education Training Collective (ETC)--will begin strike action next month as part of an ongoing dispute over low pay. The strike dates include Tuesday 7 November, Monday 13 November and Tuesday 14 November 2023. Click here for full details.

    Update, 28 November 2023: UCU today announced three new days of strike action at ETC colleges. The first strike in this round would take place on Wednesday 13 December. Further strikes are also set to go ahead on Tuesday 9 January and Wednesday 10 January 2024.

    Update, 12 January 2024: UCU members at five further education colleges in Cleveland, Redcar and Stockton-on-Tees have been on strike on Wednesday 9 and Thursday 10 January in a long-running dispute over low pay, which was covered by ITVBBC and The Morning Star. UCU members at the colleges overwhelmingly rejected an offer of 3% for 2022/23, and have also voted to reject a further offer of an additional 1%--which was only to be paid for three months of that financial year. Staff have already taken four days of strike action since November 2023, but the employer has responded by offering two 'well-being days' and nothing on pay. Chris Robinson, UCU regional support official (Northern region), said: 'Thank you to everyone who has shown support for our action this week, which was well supported by members. Our resolve is still strong, and is buoyed by your solidarity'. You can send the branch a message of support and share our posts on X/Twitter.

    Update, 21 February 2024: UCU members at ETC will be re-balloted for strike action over the 2022/23 pay award. This follows members' overwhelming rejection of the last proposal brought forward by management.

    Update, 4 March 2024: UCU members at ETC will strike on Wednesday 20 and Thursday 21 March 2024. UCU also confirmed it would open a new strike ballot on Wednesday 6 March 2024 that will run until Monday 15 April 2024 so it can continue to take industrial action if ETC refuses to settle the dispute.

    Update, 18 April 2024: UCU members at ETC have again voted to renew their strike mandate. An overwhelming 94% of members who voted said 'Yes' to strike action in a ballot that with a turnout that beat the anti-trade union threshold of 50%. The strike vote is the latest escalation in the long running dispute over the 2022/23 pay award.

    Goldsmiths, University of London: large scale redundancies

    An industrial action ballot opened on Friday 1 March 2024 in a dispute over potential large scale redundancies associated with a so-called 'Transformation programme'. Goldsmiths management are proposing to find huge financial savings in an extremely short time, which UCU believes is disproportionate and misguided, and which will destabilise the institution, increase workloads further, and severely impact student satisfaction and recruitment. The ballot closed on Thursday 28 March 2024.

    Update, 28 March 2024: UCU announced staff at Goldsmiths have overwhelmingly voted to take industrial action in a fight to stop the sacking of more than one in six academic staff at the institution. Over 87% of UCU members who voted said 'Yes' to strike action in a ballot with a turnout of 69%. Members also backed taking action short of strike, such as a marking boycott. The ballot is over plans to cut over 130 jobs at Goldsmiths. Management has now confirmed it wants to make extraordinary cuts that would see almost half the academics in the schools of arts and humanities; culture and society; and professional studies, science and technology axed (a role reduction of 91.5 from 262.9 full time equivalent).

    Update, 5 April 2024: UCU confirmed staff at Goldsmiths University will begin a marking boycott on Friday 19 April over plans to sack more than one in six academic staff. The boycott will cover all marking and assessment, including in writing, online, or verbally. It will also include any assessment-related work such as exam invigilation and the administrative processing of marks. UCU warned that graduations will be impacted unless the university resolves the dispute by halting its plans to cut over 130 jobs. Alongside the boycott, UCU members will take other forms of industrial action including working to rule and boycotting processes related to management's "transformation programme" of cuts.

      University of the Highlands and Islands: job cuts

      A ballot for strike action opened on Friday 18 August 2023 at the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) in a dispute over job cuts and compulsory redundancies. The ballot would run until 20 September and could pave the way for strike action at the university in the new academic year.

      Update, 8 September 2023: UHI UCU branch is asking members to sign their open letter to the university principal and management. The letter has had a great response so far, but the more people who sign the louder the message to management to rethink their massive cuts, rule out compulsory redundancies and stop damaging higher education in the highlands and islands.

      Update, 20 September 2023: Staff at the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) have this week backed strikes in a dispute over plans to slash £3million from the university's staffing budget and cut up to 44 roles. The union said losing so many staff in such a short timescale was bound to impact on both the student experience, the university's reputation ,and the future of tertiary education in the  Scottish highlands and islands. In the ballot of UHI UCU members, 77% of those who voted backed strike action on a turnout of 86%.

      Update, 6 October 2023: UCU Scotland has announced dates for strike action at the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI). The strike is over the university's plans to cut £4 million, including £3 million from the staff budget and making up to 44 roles redundant. UHI UCU members will take six days of strike action starting on Tuesday 17 October and escalating through to the start of November. The employer has taken no steps to prevent the strike going ahead. Politicians across the Highlands and Islands have also called for talks and consultation between the union and the university.

      Update, 13 October 2023: The UCU branch at the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) will be taking the first of six days of strike action on Tuesday 17 October. The dispute is over £3m cuts to the staffing budget and making up to 44 roles redundant. Please send messages of solidarity to the branch.

      Update, 20 October 2023: UCU members at the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) began the first of six days of strikes on Tuesday 17 October. The strike is over £4 million cuts the university is making, including £3 million from the staffing budget meaning that up to 44 roles are being made redundant. In the ballot approving strike action, turnout was 86% with 77% of UCU members backing going on strike to defend jobs and oppose cuts. Please send messages of solidarity to the branch.

      Update, 27 October 2023: UCU members at the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) are taking six days of strike action over £4 million cuts the university is making, including £3 million from the staffing budget. The next strike days are Tuesday 31 October, Wednesday 1 November and Thursday 2 November.

      You can support UHI colleagues by donating to their fighting fund (details below), and by sending messages of support to the branch. Officers from UHI UCU branch are available to speak at branch meetings, please email the UCU Scotland office to be put in touch. You can also follow the branch latest updates here, and sign their petition here

      For donations to UHI fighting fund:

      • account name: UCU UHI Millennium Inst SC019
      • account number: 20240808
      • sort code: 60-83-01

      Update, 14 February 2024: On 14 February, 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.

        University of Kent: job cuts

        The University of Kent announced recently that there are likely to be up to 58 academic redundancies. This is on top of year on year cuts that have seen a dramatic decline in staffing. The current situation is entirely of the employer's own making: there is no reason, other than management failings, that Kent find themselves in this mess. UCU are determined to fight this academic vandalism and defend the university; show your support and sign this petition.

        Update, 23 February 2024: an industrial action ballot opened on Friday 23 February and will close on Friday 5 April.

        Update, 5 April 2024: University of Kent UCU members have backed strike action in defence of jobs. The result comes as the person in charge of the cuts, vice-chancellor Karen Cox, announces she will step down in May 2024, before they are even implemented. An overwhelming 85% of UCU members who voted said 'Yes' to strike action in a ballot with a turnout of 57%. The vote comes after 58 staff were placed at risk of redundancy as part of a programme that would see courses closed across the university. Courses set to go include art history, music and audio technology, philosophy, religious studies, anthropology, health and social care, and journalism. A petition to save the courses has now reached over 16k signatures. Management also wants to slash the amount of time staff have allocated to research from 40% to as little as 20%.

        University of Lincoln: job cuts

        Staff at the University of Lincoln are poised to take a stand against brutal cuts. A consultation over potential strike action is set to begin on Monday 22 April 2024.

        The looming threat targets over 220 University of Lincoln employees, including one in ten academic staff. Cuts include the phasing out of the fashion degree and ending specialist support for widening participation students in the foundation studies centre. The centre's teaching team have been notified their jobs are at risk.

        Despite the most recent accounts showing that in 2022/23 the university ran a £3m operating surplus and had £46m in cash reserves, a directive was issued last week, underscoring the necessity to slash the budget by £30m the end of the 2025 financial year. Some cuts have already been made with modern languages provision being shut down and eight staff losing their jobs. The severity of these new cuts has ignited opposition among university staff.

        In a defiant response to management's refusal to rule out compulsory redundancies, over 150 staff attended an emergency University of Lincoln UCU branch meeting and voiced their opposition to the proposals.

        Open University: job cuts

        In March 2024, 35 professional services and support staff have been placed at risk of redundancy, with frontline student-facing roles particularly affected. A further voluntary severance scheme has been opened to all teaching-only staff, affecting around 50% of OU employees. UCU demands the removal of the threat that compulsory redundancies will be issued if voluntary schemes do not meet management's targets

        Oxford Brookes University: defending jobs

        Oxford Brookes University has announced plans to reduce academic staff numbers in humanities and social sciences and technology, design and the environment leaving 48 jobs at risk of compulsory redundancy.

        UCU reps have challenged the need to make the proposed £2 million savings given the apparent positive financial situation of the university and concerns have also been raised about lack of meaningful consultation with the union and affected staff. 

        Update, 9 February 2024: in November 2023 management at Oxford Brookes University declared 48 jobs 'at risk' with 20 needing to be cut. Our campaigning, negotiating and balloting have reduced the number of compulsory redundancies to two. UCU still intend to reduce that number to zero. Please read and share UCU's open letter here and sign our petition to save jobs at Oxford Brookes University.

        Update, 8 March 2024: the ongoing campaign against jobs cuts and restructuring at Oxford Brookes is entering a new phase. UCU reps are setting up a 'Save research at Brookes' committee and demanding a new redundancy avoidance policy. Students have been central to UCU's campaign, for which we thank them. For more information, or to send messages of support please contact Oxford Brookes UCU branch chair.

        Update, 11 March 2024: click here for the latest update from Oxford Brookes UCU branch.

        University of Portsmouth: job cuts

        On 27 March 2024, UCU confirmed strike action could be on the cards at the University of Portsmouth, as the union starts a consultation of its members. 398 academic staff are to be put at risk of redundancy, as part of University of Portsmouth's 'academic reset' programme that management says is necessary due to recruitment challenges and increased costs.

        UCU has challenged the rationale for the redundancies and says that far from being in financial trouble, University of Portsmouth has almost £329m in the bank and is planning to spend £250m on buildings. One of the stated aims of the 'academic reset' is to improve student experience, but UCU believes the proposed cuts will narrow course and module options, endanger the professional accreditation of certain degrees, and reduce lecturers' capacity for teaching and support. University of Portsmouth is seeking to restructure so that there are fewer academic staff per student on its courses. 

        Ravensbourne University London: attack on trade unions

        Following over twelve months of discussion between UCU and the employer, in November last year, UCU applied (with UNISON) for voluntary recognition at Ravensbourne University London. Ravensbourne responded by offering to negotiate, an offer which was accepted, and an initial negotiation meeting was scheduled for 10 January 2024. On 5 January, vice-chancellor Andy Cook pre-empted that negotiation and announced an independent ballot of all staff 'to gauge the level of support for formal trade union recognition' and 'to gauge the level of support to establish a Representative Staff Forum as an alternative to formal trade union recognition'.

        Deborah Driscoll, UCU regional support official (London HE), said: 'after months of stalling and telling us that they wanted to work with UCU, it seems that Ravensbourne's management have finally shown their true colours. It has now become apparent that the VC does not want to recognise independent trade unions and would prefer a toothless and ineffective "Representative Staff Forum" instead. Two petitions have shown overwhelming support for the application for recognition of UCU at Ravensbourne and we are ready to continue to make the case to the staff if there is a ballot. We are currently waiting for the university's proposals in writing before agreeing anything as we need to ensure that any vote would be genuinely free and fair. UCU are very alert to any hint of unfair practices by the university and would urge staff to get in contact with their local UCU branch if they have any concerns. The university has agreed not to put out any further communications to staff about firm ballot arrangements for the time being.'

        Update, 26 January 2024: UCU members at Ravensbourne University are campaigning for trade union recognition following management proposals to establish an alternative 'representative staff forum'. Staff are to be balloted on the two options by the university with provisional ballot dates of 4-17 March. UCU is arguing for formal recognition which would provide an agreed negotiating framework and give staff a voice to influence key decisions at Ravensbourne whereas the proposed management-controlled forum doesn't come with the same rights and obligations. Find out more about this important campaign by clicking here and support our demand for a seat at the decision-making table by following the branch on Instagram here.

        Update, 9 February 2024: Ravensbourne University London's ballot of staff on whether to have a 'staff forum' instead of independent trade union recognition is being exposed for vote-rigging. The employer is refusing to have a vote purely on whether staff want UCU to be recognised, is demanding a high turnout rather than a simple majority of those voting, and is insisting that UCU will not have access to staff to talk about the ballot unless it agrees to be 'locked out' of statutory recognition rights for three years. If you work at Ravensbourne, help us fight back against this union busting by voting for trade union recognition. You can also send messages of solidarity to the Ravensbourne UCU branch.

        SOAS, University of London: fire and rehire

        An indicative ballot has launched in February 2024 on taking strike action at SOAS over fire and rehire plans that place 34 staff at risk of losing their jobs and being rehired on worse terms and conditions. The cuts would eliminate all term time English-language and study skills support for international students.

        Sheffield Hallam University: job cuts

        A strike ballot will open on Monday 15 April 2024 at Sheffield Hallam University

        UCU has accused the university of pushing ahead with expensive building projects while launching a wholesale attack on staff and students through an unprecedented cuts programme, severely breaching the post-92 contract and national framework, and attacking on working conditions.

        The university has said 225 academic jobs will be axed, with up to 80 staff facing compulsory redundancy. Around 140 senior experienced academics have already left following the opening of a voluntary severance scheme in December 2023 and the university is now ploughing ahead with further compulsory job losses. 

        Cuts come alongside unprecedented breaches of the post-92 national contract that will severely impact research and teaching. The university intends to completely remove the (grade 9) principal lecturer role, force line management responsibilities onto (grade 8) lecturers and create a new teaching (grade 6) 'academic tutor' role.  

        Staffordshire University: job cuts

        UCU vowed to fight devastating cuts at Staffordshire University. In a consultation document shared with UCU, the university has put over 100 jobs at risk of redundancy, with staff set to go as soon as December 2023. The cuts include up to 65 academic job losses, which equates to over one in 10 academic staff, and swingeing cuts to professional services staff.

        The proposed cuts to academic staff include up to 31 jobs in the school of justice, security and sustainability; eleven in the school of health, science and wellbeing; eight in the school of digital technologies and the arts; and six in the institute of education.

        University of Surrey: job cuts

        Up to 140 jobs could be lost at the University of Surrey: an open letter from UCU to Surrey's vice-chancellor said members and the wider community were extremely concerned by plans set out in an all-staff meeting in March 2024. Proposals were set out for voluntary redundancies, the sale of university assets and other cost cutting exercises.

        Michael Moran, UCU regional official (South East), told BBC Radio Surrey: 'At the moment all we know is that the management have announced they need to save money by cutting staff'. He added that the 'real concern' was the university's refusal to rule out compulsory redundancy and that voluntary redundancies may be 'just the start'.

        Tyne Coast College: low pay and job cuts

        Over 100 staff at Tyne Coast College downed tools in June 2023 in a fight over fair pay. Staff took part in strike action on Monday 5 and Wednesday 7 June. The College said it would be 'closed for lessons' during the strike days.  

        The strike came after 94% of those who voted backed strike action. Turnout was 54%. It was over the 2022/3 pay claim, which came on top of multiple real-term wage cuts and a recent pay freeze (2019/20).  The College was involved in controversy recently as it suddenly announced the closure of a key part of their provision, the sixth form at Queen Alexandra College. This provoked anger amongst parents and students, as well as the staff, and the local MP also took up the issue. The uproar forced the college into a partial U-turn.  

        Update, 19 September 2023: Over 100 staff at Tyne Coast College would take two days of strike action next month on Tuesday 3 and Monday 23 October in a long-running dispute over low pay. The latest action comes after management imposed a paltry pay award of just 3%, which staff had overwhelmingly rejected. Staff already took two days of strike action in the dispute. 

        Update, 20 October 2023: Strike action at Tyne Coast College was called off after the employer agreed to enter talks with the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas). Staff took a day's strike action last month and had been due to walk out on Monday 23 October as part of a long running dispute over pay. The action came after management imposed a paltry pay award of just 3%, which staff had overwhelmingly rejected.

        Update, 19 January 2024: Tyne Coast College management announced this week that 54 staff were at risk of losing their jobs before the end of February. The union has written to the college demanding it stops all individual consultation meetings with impacted staff and starts meaningfully consulting with UCU as required by law. Staff at Tyne Coast College took strike action over low pay earlier in the academic year in a dispute that has still not been resolved. Messages of solidarity via email and Twitter/X are welcome.

        Update, 29 February 2024: Around 20 staff, with decades of experience, will exit Tyne Coast College today, UCU confirmed. The departures come after Tyne Coast College management told staff many would lose their jobs in a bid to make cuts of up to £1 million with more cuts still threatened for the summer.

        University of Winchester: job cuts

        UCU confirmed strike action could be on the cards at the University of Winchester after its members voted to consult over taking industrial action.

        Staff have been put at risk of redundancy in changes that would see the university close its English language programme; institute for climate and social justice; centre for religion, reconciliation and peace; and managed housing, and see cuts to psychology, acting and apprenticeships. The university claims it needs to make the cuts due to a £6m structural deficit. There are 40 jobs planned to go in the current phase, with fears of further job cuts pending. UCU said staff and students must not pay the price for leadership's financial mismanagement. The union will now lodge a formal dispute with the university and a strike ballot could open later in March 2024. 

        UCU members winning at work

        Last updated: 18 April 2024