The majority of campus branches have declined to participate in the scheduled action set for September 25th to 29th.
The University and College Union has decided not to proceed with nationwide strikes planned for the upcoming week, as approximately two-thirds of campus branches have declined to participate.
Lecturers, librarians, and technicians at only 42 out of the 140 universities initially expected to join the strike will engage in a five-day walkout starting on Monday. An additional 10 universities will hold strikes on at least one day during the same week.
Individual branches were given the option to participate in the strike scheduled for September 25th to 29th, which coincided with freshers’ week at many universities. However, 89 branches have informed the union this week that they will not take part.
Two weeks ago, the union concluded the marking and assessment boycott, which had been in effect since April. This action had led to some students being unable to graduate or receive their final grades during the summer, and participating staff had their pay reduced.
Jo Grady, the General Secretary of the UCU, stated, “We have seen many employers do the right thing and agree to stop punitive pay deductions, and some have also agreed to return what has been taken. We are now urging other vice-chancellors to follow their lead and are calling off strike action at dozens of universities. This will also allow our members to concentrate on winning the re-ballot and getting the pay and conditions they deserve. Renewing our mandate and keeping the pressure on is the way we will win this dispute, but the strike action due to go ahead next week stands as a reminder to all employers that if you behave egregiously, you will face further disruption.”
The UCU’s strategies have sparked considerable debate within the organization recently, with some members expressing frustration that their efforts to uphold the marking boycott may have been in vain. During the boycott, employers at many universities withheld or deducted 50% to 100% of pay. Some staff members lost over £10,000 as a result.
The declining enthusiasm among members for further strikes may also pose a challenge to the UCU’s latest ballot on industrial action, which began this week. This could weaken the union’s efforts to secure improved pay and working conditions. The strikes scheduled for next week are the last ones allowed under the union’s current mandate before it expires.
King’s College London’s UCU branch is among those that have chosen not to participate in next week’s strikes. The branch reached an agreement with the university’s management, which includes an £800 pay increase and improved maternity and paternity leave provisions.
A spokesperson for KCL mentioned that the university had agreed to “a wide range of benefits for all staff to build our thriving staff community at King’s, including increases to the London weighting allowance, childcare support, and paid parental leave.”
Raj Jethwa, the Chief Executive of the Universities and Colleges Employers Association, welcomed the majority of institutions calling off strikes and emphasized the need to work together to end the recent cycle of industrial disputes for the sake of both students and staff