UCU December strikes had ‘low impact’, claim employers

The Universities and Colleges Employers Association says its research suggests only one-third of eligible UCU members took strike action in December 2021

Two-thirds of universities affected by strikes in December 2021 have claimed that staff walkouts disrupted less than a quarter of timetabled teaching.

The University and College Union (UCU) held a three-day strike at 58 universities from 1 – 3 December 2021 over pay, conditions and the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).

The Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) said it had received reports from 38 of the HE institutions where UCU members took strike action: 66% said less than a quarter of teaching was affected, and 58% reported “low impact” on other activities.

UCEA said the responses contrasted with those collected after the 2019 industrial action, the most recent collective national action taken by UCU. More than two-thirds (68%) reported a lower overall impact in 2021.

The organisation, which represents universities in collective negotiations over pay and conditions, said there was “surprise and disappointment” among employers at the decision to reballot UCU branches over Christmas following the December strikes.

It is disappointing that UCU is considering further action at these HE institutions and now a few more following the re-ballot results
– Raj Jethwa, UCEA 

Following the reballot, a total of 68 universities could now face strike action in the early part of this term after a further twelve UCU branches reached the legal 50% legal threshold required to hold a walkout.

UCEA claim that just one-third of UCU members at the 58 universities took strike action on at least one of the three days of strikes, representing only 9% of all staff in these institutions.

Raj Jethwa, UCEA chief executive, said: “Despite these low figures, our members regret any disruption to their students caused by UCU industrial action.

“It is disappointing that UCU is considering further action at these HE institutions and now a few more following the re-ballot results. We respect employees’ right to take lawful industrial action, but it is misleading to their members for UCU to ask them to lose more pay in pursuit of an unrealistic 7% pay demand.

“The vast majority of the 325,000 staff covered by collective pay negotiations clearly recognise the financial realities for their institutions.”

Read more: Goldsmith decries global boycott

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