Bristol staff ballot for UCU strike action

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By Isaac Haigh, Investigations Correspondent

The University of Bristol and fifty nine other UK universities will be hit with eight days of strike action from Monday 25 November to Wednesday 4 December, UCU announced today.

In spring of 2018 lecturers held strikes for three weeks over pay and pension disputes culminating in an occupation of Senate House. Whilst not as long these same issues are the centre of the upcoming strike.

Last week UCU members backed strike action in two separate legal disputes, one on pensions and one on pay and working conditions. Overall, 79 per cent of UCU members who voted backed strike action in the ballot over changes to pensions. In the ballot on pay, equality, casualization and workload, 74 per cent  of members polled backed strike action.

The overall turnout in the USS ballot was 53 per cent and on pay and conditions, it was 49 per cent. The union disaggregated the ballots so branches who secured a 50 per cent turnout can take action in this first wave. The union's higher education committee has now set out the timetable for the action.

As well as eight strike days from 25 November to Wednesday 4 December, union members will begin 'action short of a strike'. This involves things like working strictly to contract, not covering for absent colleagues and refusing to reschedule lectures lost to strike action.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'The first wave of strikes will hit universities later this month unless the employers start talking to us seriously about how they are going to deal with rising pension costs and declining pay and conditions.

'Any general election candidate would be over the moon with a result along the lines of what we achieved last week. Universities can be in no doubt about the strength of feeling on these issues and we will be consulting branches whose desire to strike was frustrated by anti-union laws about re-balloting.'

In a statement on its website Bristol SU said: ‘We believe that any action will be in the long-term interests of all students to ensure we retain the best quality teaching staff at the university.

‘Therefore we stand in solidarity with our UCU colleagues to support the strike, and will be working closely with UCU colleagues during this time.

‘In particular, our members who are PGR students may be taking part in the strike, and we will support them for the benefit of their future academic careers.

‘We understand that students may be anxious about the effect that strike action will have on your studies and wellbeing.

‘We want to assure you that we will be working hard to ensure that the impact of the strikes will not have adverse effects on your educational experience. We plan to give regular updates on the strikes at www.bristolsu.org.uk/strikes and will be sharing more information about what to expect soon.’

Featured image: Ciara Flint

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AUTHOR

Isaac Haigh

Chemistry PGR, News Investigations Correspondent 19/20