17 More Universities Vote For Strike Action!

UCU members picket during the last day of their strike acvtion in March 2020

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) at 17 more UK universities have voted to strike over pay and working conditions, meaning that 54 UK universities are now gearing up for action.

Overall, more than seven in 10 members who voted (70.1%) backed strike action with 85% (84.9%) voting for action short of strike.

The overall turnout in British universities hit the 50% threshold required by Tory anti-trade union laws.

Yesterday’s results follow those released last Thursday, in which 76% backed strike action over pension cuts, with an overall turnout of 53%.

UCU said the turnout in both ballots reflects the anger of staff working in UK universities, with the union delivering the YES vote in a window of under three weeks.

Now, staff at 54 universities have a mandate to take strike action over pay and working conditions.

Last Thursday, UCU announced that staff at 37 universities had backed strike action over the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension cuts.

Following the two separate ballots, staff at 54 universities now have a mandate to take action, 21 over pay, 33 over both pay and pensions and four over USS only.

The National Union of Students has also backed staff voting for strike action, calling their working conditions ‘untenable’.

UCU is demanding a £2,500 pay increase for all staff; an end to race, gender and disability pay injustice; a framework to eliminate zero-hours and other casualised contracts; and meaningful action to tackle unmanageable workloads.

Last week the UCU revealed in a pay modeller that the wages of university staff have fallen 20% in real terms since 2009.

A report also published last week showed a widespread workload and mental health crisis in universities, with almost a third of staff feeling emotionally drained from work every day.

Vice chancellor salaries now average around £278k, ten times more than the average lecturer.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady told a 1,400-strong mass meeting of members on Saturday: ‘This result is a clear vote of no confidence in the so-called leaders of our universities, with staff telling them in no uncertain terms that they have had enough of pay and working conditions being run into the ground.

‘UCU members have yet again beaten the Tory anti-union laws, alongside our pension ballot result, this means we have a big mandate to take strike action, at a time of our choosing.

‘It is scandalous that university vice-chancellors on overinflated salaries seem to think doing nothing on pay, casualisation and inequality is acceptable in a sector awash with money.’