Bristol UCU calls off seven days of strikes following ‘significant progress’

Strikes initially scheduled for this week and next week are cancelled

The University and College Union (UCU) has announced seven days of strikes in February and early March will no longer go ahead.

This comes after “significant progress” has been made surrounding several issues during talks with university employers.

The General Secretary of the UCU, Jo Grady, has said that calling off strikes over the next fortnight will allow for a “period of calm”.

Strikes originally planned for February 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 27th, and 28th, and March 1st and 2nd have all been called off.

However, five days of strikes after these dates (March 16th, 17th, 20th, 21st, and 22nd) will still go ahead.

Negotiations will take place during the fortnight of “paused” strike action and Dr Grady, in a message to UCU members, said this will  “enable the negotiations to be held in the most positive environment possible”.

Action-short-of-a-strike (ASOS) will still take place while strike action is paused.

ASOS means that university staff will work to contract; not cover for absent colleagues; not reschedule lectures or classes cancelled by strike action; and not undertake any voluntary activities.

‘Significant progress’

The progress that has been made thus far includes the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) currently consulting their members, with a recommendation that they give them a mandate to end the use of involuntary zero-hour contracts.

Jo Grady described this progress as a “powerful platform to build on for the removal of even more insecurity”.

Progress has also been made in terms of pay, which, despite not significantly improving, has still improved and been remodelled to ensure that the lowest earners get paid more.

The UCEA said it made a “final pay offer of between 8% and 5% from August 2023 with a proportion of that to be paid from February, some six months in advance of the usual pay uplift date”.

They have also said that further talks will occur focusing on pay spines, workload, and types of staff contracts.

Two weeks of intensive negotiations will now begin to turn this progress into a full agreement.

If the negotiations fail to produce a full agreement, then Bristol Uni students may face even more disruption to their studies.

UCU members will start voting on Wednesday in a re-ballot that would give the trade union a mandate for a further six months of industrial action if they need it.

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Featured image credit via Twitter/@SmileyNeil