Overwhelming Vote in Favour of Further UCU Strikes

Overwhelming Vote in Favour of Further UCU Strikes

Over two thirds of UCU members in universities vote in favour of continuation of strike action.

69% of University and College Union members at UK universities have voted for further strikes following a ballot concerning action over pay cuts. The decision comes after weeks of disruption in February and March which saw thousands of lecturers striking over pension disputes.

However, due to stricter trade union laws, only British institutions with a turnout of 50% or higher can act on the results of their ballots. As a consequence, only ten universities and four further education colleges have met the requirements that allow them to take action. UCL, with a voter turnout of 42%, does not qualify despite a 76% vote in favour of striking and an 88% vote for action short of a strike.

Despite negotiations in May, the UCU has said that the offer made by the Universities and Colleges’ Employers Association does not address the 21% fall in the value of higher education pay since 2009. UCU members will now be meeting to discuss the ballot result and how to best continue their campaign.

UCU members at UCL held an EGM on 31st October in order to talk about the outcome of the ballot with regard to university staff pay. This vote was the largest ever at UCL for striking over pay, with 1,100 members voting out of 2,631 members balloted.

Since the Trade Union Act passed in 2016, it has become harder for unions to take industrial action. The double threshold effect introduced through the act means that a majority must be reached on both voting for specific action and voter participation for the result of a ballot to be implemented.

The UCU has recently responded to a report stating that some universities were relying on loans due to financial hardships. Their head of policy and campaigns Matt Waddup said: “If we are serious about our higher education sector continuing to compete on the global stage then we need to ensure all parts of it are properly supported.” A special Higher Education conference over pay issues will take place on 7th November where this matter will be further debated.

Image via @UCLProtest