Edinburgh staff vote for strike action

Staff at the University of Edinburgh have voted this week for strike action over pension cuts, pay and working conditions alongside colleagues at dozens of other British universities.

With a turnout of 59 per cent, which is higher than the 50 per cent requirement for strike action to be legal, 82 per cent voted in favour of strike action and 93 per cent voted for action short of a strike over staff pensions.

In the pay and working conditions ballot, 75 per cent voted to strike and 90 per cent voted for action short of a strike.

Staff at a total of 58 universities in the UK now have a mandate for strike action.

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This follows strike action in 2020, 2019, and 2018 which disrupted teaching, although strike action could still be avoided.

In a statement, the head of the University and College Union Jo Grady said: 

“These results are a clear mandate for strike action over pension cuts and should be heard loud and clear by university employers.

“Staff in universities have given their all to support students during the pandemic, but management have responded by trying to slash their guaranteed pension by 35 per cent.

“It is now in the gift of employers to avoid strike action, which is the outcome staff want as well. All management needs to do is withdraw their needless cuts and return to negotiations.”

On the ballot over pay and working conditions, Grady added: 

“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.

“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.”

Speaking to The Student, a spokesperson for the University of Edinburgh said: 

“We are aware of the outcome of the UCU ballot and await the decision on whether industrial action will go ahead and, if so, when. 

“We realise this situation causes additional concern for students and we will do everything we can to ensure that the impact of any action on students’ learning and teaching is minimised.

“We intend to maintain academic standards so that students are not disadvantaged in exams or in progressing to the next year.

“We will continue to work with all appropriate groups, including UCU representatives, to find a long-term, responsible outcome to this ongoing challenge and would encourage USS members to respond to the current member consultation.”

Edinburgh University Students’ Association said in a statement on it’s website: 

“As a Students’ Association, our current policy is to support UCU strikes, as we strongly feel that our staffs’ teaching conditions are our students’ learning conditions, and that all members of the university community have a right to have their voice heard and welfare supported. 

“Some Students’ Association members are also members of UCU, and may have voted in support of industrial action.

“As a Students’ Association, we will be closely following plans for industrial action, and call on the university to take all possible measures to minimise disruption to students’ learning, including by entering and supporting any negotiations that might see action averted.”  

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