Strike action on cards as union ballots university staff

The University and College Union (UCU), the trade union that represents much of the UK’s higher education academic and support staff, has today confirmed that they will ballot members about possible strike action.

Ballots – more commonly known as votes – will open at universities, including the University of Edinburgh, on Monday 18 October and will ask members if they are in favour of taking industrial strike action.

The ballot comes as Universities UK, the body that represents all of the UK’s universities, voted last month to cut thousands of pounds from the pensions of university staff. The UCU claim that the move will cut pensions by 35 per cent.

Alongside the dispute over pension cuts, the UCU is balloting members over declining staff pay and increasing staff workload.

The UCU hopes that by balloting members about possible strike action, employers will therefore be forced to return to the negotiating table with the aim of reaching a settlement.

The ballots will run from Monday 18 October until Thursday 4 November and unless a settlement is reached before then, the UCU’s Higher Education Committee will meet on 8 November to scrutinise the result of the ballot.

If UCU members vote in favour of industrial action, strikes will take place before the end of the first semester and may continue into the second semester.

University of Edinburgh staff took industrial action over the same issue in February and March 2020, with the strikes held over four weeks and culminating in a week long strike from March 9 to March 13 2020.

Speaking to The Student about the possible strike action, one University of Edinburgh student said:

“Having had two years of our four year course severely affected by covid and previous strike action, this next round of possible strikes feels like an absolute slap in the face.

“I completely understand the need for university staff to be paid fairly, and that universities are not doing enough to support their staff. Nevertheless, the prospect of further disruption is frankly insulting.

“I feel like many students will be far less supportive of strike action this time around.”

Image: Nicholas Cimini