UCU to reballot 42 universities on strike action

Union gives 42 union branches who missed 50% turnout threshold another chance to vote for strikes next term

The University and College Union (UCU) is to reballot staff at 42 universities in an attempt to boost numbers participating in industrial action over pensions, pay and working conditions next term.

The reballots come after 42 union branches failed to reach the legal 50% turnout threshold in this autumn’s three-week strike ballot of UCU members at 141 universities.

Academics at 54 university branches backed strike action in that ballot, with a national turnout of 50.6% – the UCU general secretary described the result as “a clear vote of no-confidence” in vice-chancellors but the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) said the low turnout was “a clear indication that the great majority of university union members, as well as wider HE employees, understand the financial realities for their institution”.

17 universities are now being reballoted over both pensions and pay and working conditions, 20 over pay and working conditions only and five over pensions only. Six of the universities being reballoted will be taking action over either pensions or pay and working conditions, and are being reballoted in an attempt to secure mandates for strikes over both disputes.

Three days of strikes over pensions, pay and working conditions are already set to take place at 58 universities next week (Wednesday 1 December to Friday 3 December).

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “Next week staff at dozens of campuses will be going on strike over attacks on their pensions, pay and working conditions. In the new year, staff at 42 more universities could join them for a period of sustained and escalating industrial action.

“There is still time to avoid this disruption, but that is in the gift of vice chancellors who sadly are still choosing to ignore the serious concerns of staff rather than address them.”

The reballot will run from Monday 6 December until Friday 14 January.

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