University staff union backs away from UK-wide strikes as support wanes

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The University and College Union has backed distant from UK-wide strikes scheduled for adjacent week, aft two-thirds of field branches declined to instrumentality part.

Lecturers, librarians and technicians astatine conscionable 42 universities volition locomotion retired for 5 days from Monday, retired of the 140 expected to instrumentality portion erstwhile the UCU announced the concern enactment earlier this month. A further 10 universities volition clasp onslaught enactment connected astatine slightest 1 time adjacent week.

Individual branches were asked if they wanted to instrumentality portion successful the onslaught enactment to beryllium held from 25-29 September, which would person coincided with freshers’ week astatine galore universities. However, 89 branches told the national this week they did not.

Two weeks agone the national ended the marking and appraisal boycott that had been successful spot since April, and which had meant that some students were incapable to graduate oregon person last grades successful the summer. Staff taking portion had their wage docked.

Jo Grady, the UCU’s wide secretary, said: “We person seen galore employers bash the close happening and hold to halt punitive wage deductions and immoderate person besides agreed to instrumentality what has been taken.

“We are present urging different vice-chancellors to travel their pb and are calling disconnected onslaught enactment astatine dozens of universities. This volition besides let our members to ore connected winning the reballot and getting the wage and conditions they deserve.

“Renewing our mandate and keeping the unit connected is the mode we volition triumph this dispute, but the onslaught enactment owed to spell up adjacent week stands arsenic a reminder to each employers that if you behave egregiously, you volition look further disruption.”

The union’s tactics person been the taxable of sizeable statement wrong the UCU successful caller weeks, with immoderate members aggravated that their sacrifice successful upholding the marking boycott whitethorn person been fruitless. Employers astatine galore universities withheld oregon deducted 50% to 100% of wage portion the boycott continued, with immoderate unit losing much than £10,000.

Members’ waning appetite for further strikes whitethorn besides imperil the UCU’s latest ballot connected concern enactment that opened this week, weakening its efforts to unafraid improved wage and moving conditions. Next week’s strikes are the past that tin instrumentality spot nether the union’s existent mandate earlier it expires.

King’s College London’s UCU subdivision is among those that opted retired of adjacent week’s strikes, aft the subdivision agreed a woody with the university’s absorption that includes an £800 wage summation and improved maternity and paternity permission provisions.

A KCL spokesperson said the assemblage had agreed “a wide scope of benefits for each unit to physique our thriving unit assemblage astatine King’s, including increases to the London weighting allowance, childcare enactment and paid parental leave”.

Raj Jethwa, the main enforcement of the Universities and Colleges Employers Association, said helium welcomed the bulk of institutions calling disconnected strikes.

“For the involvement of students and unit alike, it is present captious to enactment unneurotic to bring to an extremity the sector’s caller rhythm of concern disputes,” Jethwa said.

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