Strikes are ON: start Mon 25 Nov 2019

University strikes ON after universities refuse to deal with pensions, pay and working conditions

21 November 2019

Eight days of strike action at 60 UK universities will begin on Monday as the University and College Union (UCU) accused universities of being “all spin and no substance” in their response to disputes over pensions, pay and working conditions.

Earlier this week, UCU accused universities of playing games after their representatives refused to even discuss pay. The union said things were no better at talks yesterday (Wednesday) over changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), where their representatives failed to make a serious offer.

UCU said it feared that universities had learnt nothing from last year’s dispute, when campuses were brought to a standstill by unprecedented levels of strike action.

Last month, UCU members backed strike action in two disputes, one on changes to the USS pension scheme and one on universities’ failure to make improvements on pay, equality, casualisation and workloads. Overall, 79% of UCU members who voted backed strike action in the ballot over changes to pensions. In the ballot on pay, equality, casualisation and workloads, 74% of members polled backed strike action.

The union called on other vice-chancellors to follow the example of Professor Anthony Forster at the University of Essex, who recently acknowledged employers can afford to pay more for USS and should be doing more to avoid widespread disruption.

The union warned that if universities failed to make improved offers then further waves of strike action could follow in the new year, with even more staff taking part. UCU has said it is currently consulting with its branches at other universities about being balloted again to join further action.

As well as eight strike days from 25 November to Wednesday 4 December, UCU members will begin “action short of a strike”. This involves things like working strictly to contract, not covering for absent colleagues and refusing to reschedule lectures lost to strike action.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: ‘It is quite staggering that the employers have allowed things to get to this stage and done so little to avoid the upcoming disruption. Instead of engaging seriously with us over the various elements of the disputes, they have been all spin and no substance.

‘Universities appear to have learnt nothing from last year’s USS dispute, and are once again showing a dangerous level of complacency that completely underestimates the scale of anger amongst staff. Instead of wasting time playing games, they would do well to listen to people like Anthony Forster who have acknowledged that universities can afford to pay more to address these issues. It is time for university leaders to show some actual leadership.

‘Students should be asking serious questions of their vice-chancellors and putting pressure on them to get their representatives back to the negotiating table with serious offers that address all the issues at stake. If universities don’t change their tune, then next week’s action could just be the start with further waves of strikes involving more staff in the new year.’


* UK universities affected by strike action from Monday 25 November


Both disputes (43):

1.     Aston University  
2.     Bangor University  
3.     Cardiff University  
4.     University of Durham  
5.     Heriot-Watt University  
6.     Loughborough University  
7.     Newcastle University  
8.     The Open University  
9.     The University of Aberdeen  
10.  The University of Bath  
11.  The University of Dundee  
12.  The University of Leeds  
13.  The University of Manchester  
14.  The University of Sheffield  
15.  University of Nottingham  
16.  The University of Stirling  
17.  University College London  
18.  The University of Birmingham  
19.  The University of Bradford  
20.  The University of Bristol  
21.  The University of Cambridge  
22.  The University of Edinburgh  
23.  The University of Exeter  
24.  The University of Essex  
25.  The University of Glasgow  
26.  The University of Lancaster  
27.  The University of Leicester  
28.  City University  
29.  Goldsmiths College  
30.  Queen Mary University of London  
31.  Royal Holloway  
32.  The University of Reading  
33.  The University of Southampton  
34.  The University of St Andrews  
35.  Courtauld Institute of Art  
36.  The University of Strathclyde  
37.  The University of Wales  
38.  The University of Warwick  
39.  The University of York  
40.  The University of Liverpool  
41.  The University of Sussex  
42.  The University of Ulster  
43.  Queen’s University Belfast  

Pay and conditions dispute only (14):

1.     Bishop Grosseteste University

  2.     Bournemouth University
  3.     Edge Hill University
  4.     Glasgow Caledonian University
  5.     Glasgow School of Art
  6.     Liverpool Hope University
  7.     Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts
  8.     Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh
  9.     St Mary’s University College, Belfast
  10.  Roehampton University
  11.  The University of Oxford
  12.  Sheffield Hallam University
  13.  The University of Brighton
  14.  The University of Kent

USS pensions dispute only (3):

1.       Scottish Association of Marine Science

2.       The University of East Anglia

3.       Institute for Development Studies

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