Cambridge will strike in February if UCU demands not met

Strikes will be held at 68 UK universities if pay and pensions disputes are not resolved

At a meeting of UCU’s Higher Education Committee this Friday (19/01), further industrial action was authorised for February: both strikes and action short of strike (ASOS). This means action will now potentially take place at 68 universities across the UK – including the University of Cambridge. This figure includes 12 new universities that did not strike last term. 

No dates have been confirmed yet, although the union has promised that more information will follow “shortly.” Last term, Cambridge saw three days of strike action, including one day of impacted teaching (01/12/21).

UCU has confirmed that in February, ASOS will include UK-wide boycotts of assessment marking. 

It has warned that universities must act on both pay and pensions disputes if they wish to avoid more strikes. Specifically, it has called on universities to reverse the “devastating” 35% cut to guaranteed staff pensions. In addition, it has demanded a £2,500 pay increase for all staff to resolve the 20% real pay cut it claims staff have experienced in the last 12 years. 

The union has also asked universities to take action to reduce “unmanageable” workloads, implement pay equality, and end the “rampant” use of insecure contracts.

The new possibility of strikes is in line with the demands of Cambridge UCU’s motion from the 17th January, which called for escalating strike action.

Jo Grady, General Secretary of the UCU, said she “truly hope[s]” that further disruption can be avoided. However, she said that staff would be “forced to take UK-wide strike action” if demands were not met. She added, ‘‘We hope Vice-Chancellors finally see sense and address the long-standing concerns of staff. If they don’t, any disruption will be entirely their fault.”

The University of Cambridge’s Office of External Affairs and Communications has been approached for comment.

Feature image credits: Rosie Smart-Knight