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After already-unprecedented strike action hits UK universities over the past year, the University and College Union confirmed today that it plans to ballot staff late in the summer, with possible strike action to follow in November.
Unlike the other times, this will be an aggregate ballot, meaning that all universities across the UK will be hit with strike action if the UCU achieves a majority of a ‘yes’ vote with a turnout of over 50% nationally. It gives university staff the option to join the growing wave of industrial action currently taking place across the UK, with staff in professions from train crew to teachers to lawyers walking out of their jobs in protest over their pay.
Universities have seen 15 days of strike action over the past year with around 40 still participating in a marking boycott. Students described these previous strikes as ‘too disruptive,’ saying that they ‘pay too much for this.’
UCU are balloting staff over the pensions and pay and conditions disputes, which are the same issues as the previous industrial action, suggesting that they believe that sufficient progress has not been made to reach an agreement. They say ‘time is running out’ for employers, who they demand should make improvements to pay and working conditions and reverse the pension cuts.
The union’s general secretary, Jo Grady, said: “By attacking pensions, cutting pay and continually refusing to negotiate in good faith, vice chancellors have pushed staff towards taking more strike action, and now university staff are set to join the wave of industrial action sweeping the UK.”
“We do not take such action lightly, but university staff are beyond sick of falling pay, cuts to pensions, unsafe workloads and the rampant use of insecure contracts. The university sector is worth tens of billions of pounds and is predicted to generate record levels of income. It can more than afford to meet the demands of staff who are struggling in the midst of [a] devastating cost of living crisis.”
“Time is running out and we hope vice chancellors finally see sense and address the long-standing concerns of staff. If they don’t, mass disruption will be entirely their fault.”