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Staff at every UK university to strike over pay, pensions

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) have gained two mandates for strike action at every UK university.

Strike action will take place at all of the UK’s universities if the union and the UK higher education sector cannot come to agreements over pay, working conditions and pensions.

Dates on strike action, as well as the duration of any potential strikes, are yet to be announced.

Speaking at a press briefing, UCU General Secretary Jo Grady celebrated the result, and addressed UK university leadership.

“Today, history has been made. The game has changed. It is 150 vice-chancellors versus 70,000 UCU members.

“You have a small window now to get serious in negotiations, and reach an agreement with our union.

“But let me be crystal clear. If you do not take this opportunity, we will bring every university in the UK to a complete standstill.”

Strike action interrupted several weeks of learning last year, and higher education strikes have taken place annually at Edinburgh University since 2018.

UCU’s pay and working conditions dispute, part of a campaign the union calls the ‘Four Fights’, has led to annual higher education strikes across the UK for several years.

In their campaign, the union is looking to increase pay and equality in the workplace, while decreasing workloads and casualisation.

Meanwhile, the pension dispute involves cuts by universities to the Universities Superannuation Scheme, the pension fund most UK higher education teaching staff are enrolled in.

Strikes on the pension dispute have been taking place since 2019.

The union gained a nationwide mandate for strike action on a pay and working conditions ballot on an 81.1 per cent “Yes” vote, with a turnout of 57.8 per cent.

Meanwhile, the union gained a nationwide mandate for a strike on pension cuts on an 84.9 per cent “Yes” vote, on a turnout of 60.2 per cent.

If a strike does take place, it will be the third nationwide strike ballot to be won out since 2016, when new restrictions on nationwide strikes were introduced.

Image via UCU press handout

By Joe Sullivan

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