University of Birmingham UCU have voted in favour of staff strikes this winter

UoB staff are for striking over pension and pay disputes

Last week the University of Birmingham and Birmingham University College Union (BUCU) voted in favour of strike action this term due to an ongoing dispute over pay and pensions.

Results from Thursday 4th November show that 73.6% of The Birmingham UCU voted for strike action and 84.3% voted for action short of strike (ASOS). The vote required a 50% turnout from the union: there was a record 61.6% turnout.

Full four fights results for UoB are available here.

A letter about avoiding strike action was sent to the Vice Chancellor on 1 October by the BUCU. In the letter they stated that “any potential strike action would clearly have a detrimental impact upon the operation of the University, including both staff and students.”

Members of the BUCU voted today, 9th November, on the next steps of the USS and Four Fights dispute. 87% voted for a reballot before Christmas, and 92% voted that a reballot should be disaggregated, with 64% voted that strike action should be for at least 5 working days.

The UCU last went on strike at the end of 2019 and in February 2020 before the pandemic over similar issues and continuing pensions disputes.

David Bailey, Branch President said on behalf of the BUCU:

“No staff member or UCU member at the University of Birmingham wants to take strike action. We have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to make sure that students continue to experience the best possible education under the circumstances.

An improvement in working conditions will avoid potential strike action – but it would also improve the quality of education that students receive. This is therefore a strike to improve the working *and* learning conditions of all staff and students at the University of Birmingham.”

The main issues facing staff are pay cuts, pensions, lack of job security, and the equality pay gap.

Staff at 58 universities voted in support of strike action. The UCU called the results of strike action for pension cuts a “clear mandate” saying they reflected staff anger over cuts to the USS pensions which would reduce the guaranteed retirement income of a typical member by 35%. Full results for all universities are available here.

While the dates for the strikes are yet to be confirmed, the unions aim to strike before the end of the year. After a year and a half of online learning, strike action is set to cause further disruption for university students.

The national UCU committee are meeting on 12 November to decide their next steps.

The University of Birmingham have been contacted for comment.

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