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Universities: Strikes to resume [print version]

UCU members at Arts University Bournemouth on strike February 2023. Photo Ajit Wick / Shutterstock.

The University and College Union (UCU) is to take more strike action before the end of September unless the employers agree to return to negotiations. And it will begin preparations for a new ballot to renew the mandate in the pay and conditions dispute.

UCU members overwhelmingly rejected a 5 per cent pay offer in February. A marking and assessment boycott began at 145 universities in April.

The employers have refused not only to improve their offer but even to meet the union. And individual university employers have punitively docked the pay of staff taking part in the action.

The UCU says universities generated more money than ever last year, yet the proportion going to staff fell to a record low. The surplus money could be used to raise pay by 10 per cent, employ properly those on temporary contracts, address work overload and pay inequality (all demands of the union’s broader “Four Fights”).

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said, “We will not be bullied into accepting gig economy universities, nor will we accept employers imposing punitive pay deductions.”

Grady blamed university bosses for the impact on students. “Vice chancellors have decided that crushing their own workers is more important than seeing students graduate after years of hard work. This is a national scandal,” she said.

University managements have tried to use precariously employed staff to break the marking and assessment boycott. Where that has failed they’ve undermined standards by allowing unmarked work to be graded on the basis of work marked pre-boycott.

• A longer version of this article is on the web at University strikes resume.