University strikes

UCU had to re-ballot to continue with further strike action over pay & conditions, but despite a 68% vote for continued strike action in November, the turnout fell just short of the 50% turnout required by the Tory anti-union laws

Five days of strikes by UCU members at selected sites on 25, 26, 27, 28 & 29 September 2023; these did not include Wolverhampton University this time.

Monday 20, Tuesday 21 and Wednesday 22 March

Pickets and Pancakes 4 Pay

The University and College Union (UCU) has announced that planned strikes at higher education institutions in the UK on February 21, 22, 23, 27, and 28, as well as March 1 and 2 will not take place after breakthroughs in talks covering:

– pensions

– ending zero hour contracts

– ending casualisation

– tackling workload

– pay

UCU went on strike on Thursday 9 and Friday 10 February, Tuesday 14, Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 February;

UCU members at higher education institutions listed below will be taking part in 18 days of strike action across February and March 2023, over the pay and working conditions dispute and/or the USS pensions dispute.

UCU members already participated in 4 days of strike action on 24, 25 and 30 November 2022 and 1 Feb 2023.

The last day of strike action was on Wednesday 1 February coinciding with TUC’s ‘protect the right to strike’ day. Five unions, UCU, NEU, ASLEF, PCS and RMT joined the day of action against the Conservative government’s plans to introduce strict anti-strike measures through parliament.

UCU announced that more than 70,000 staff at 150 universities across the UK will strike for 18 days between February and March in disputes over pay, conditions and attacks on pensions. Other dates of the action will be confirmed shortly.

The Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), which represents university employers, made UCU a pay offer worth between 4% and 5% yesterday. UCU said the offer was ‘not enough’.

Wolverhampton University and College Union UCU are in dispute over attacks on jobs, pay, working conditions and pensions.

In the pension dispute, UCU is demanding employers revoke the cuts and restore benefits. The package of cuts made last year will see the average member lose 35% from their guaranteed future retirement income. For those at the beginning of their careers the losses are in the hundreds of thousands of pounds. 

Coverage of strike rally 24-11-22

The UK university sector generated record income of £41.1bn last year with vice chancellors collectively earning an estimated £45million. UCU said the sector can more than afford to meet staff demands.

Strike action was taken on Thursday 24 November, Friday 25 November, and Wednesday 30 November industrial action short of strike action on 23 November, which included working to rule, refusing to make up work lost as a result of strike action and refusing to cover for absent colleagues.

UCU had a national strike demonstration in London on the 3rd strike day, 30th November. There was also a regional event in Birmingham.

UCU said disruption can be avoided if employers act fast and make improved offers. If they don’t, strike action will escalate in the new year alongside a marking and assessment boycott.

Pickets met outside MA building on Wulfruna St. Wolverhampton WV1 1LY @ 7 a.m. (to catch senior management sneaking in early), 9.30-11am and 1.30-2.30pm

Over 70,000 university staff at 150 universities were also on strike see also

UCU members overwhelmingly voted ‘yes’ to strike action in two historic national ballots. In the pay and working condition ballot, the yes vote for strike action was 81.1% and the turnout was 57.8%. In the pension ballot, the yes vote for strike action was 84.9% and the turnout was 60.2%. Despite the result, vice-chancellors have not made any improved offers so far.

In the pay and working conditions dispute, the union’s demands include a meaningful pay rise to deal with the cost-of-living crisis and action to end the use of insecure contracts. Employers imposed a pay rise worth just 3% this year following over a decade of below inflation pay awards. A third of academic staff are on some form of temporary contract.

In the pension dispute, UCU is demanding employers revoke the cuts and restore benefits. The package of cuts made earlier this year will see the average member lose 35% from their guaranteed future retirement income. For those at the beginning of their careers the losses are in the hundreds of thousands of pounds.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: ‘Campuses across the UK are about to experience strike action on a scale never seen before. 70,000 staff will walk out and make clear they refuse to accept falling pay, cuts to pensions and insecure employment. This is not a dispute about affordability – it is about choices. Vice-chancellors are choosing to pay themselves hundreds of thousands of pounds whilst forcing our members onto low paid and insecure contracts that leave some using foodbanks. They choose to hold billions in surpluses whilst slashing staff pensions. UCU members do not want to strike but are doing so to save the sector and win dignity at work. This dispute has the mass support of students because they know their learning conditions are our members’ working conditions. If university vice-chancellors don’t get serious, our message is simple – this bout of strike action will be just the beginning.’

The National Union of Students (NUS) has backed the strikes, which will be the biggest ever to hit UK universities and could impact 2.5 million students.

NUS vice president higher education Chloe Field said: ‘Students stand in solidarity with the 70,000 university staff across the UK who will strike later this month. Staff teaching conditions are students’ learning conditions, and we must fight together for a fairer, healthier education system for everyone who works and studies. This is the fifth year in a row that government cuts to education and workers’ rights have resulted in strike action on our campuses. In that time, staff and students have stood together in the fight for better pay and conditions for all university staff, including the thousands of postgraduate students on increasingly casualised contracts. The struggles we face as students are inextricably linked to the reasons that staff are striking. High rents, astronomical international student fees, and cuts to maintenance support have happened for the same reasons that staff are suffering under huge workloads – the failed marketisation of the sector which has put profit above staff and student well-being. Universities and employers must come to the table and take meaningful action to end these disputes. They have a responsibility to their staff and students to end unacceptable pay disparities for racialised staff, disabled staff, and women, and to protect staff pensions to that they can have a decent retirement. As the workers of the future, students have everything to gain from UCU members winning this fight.’