London unis to be hit with three days of strikes in December
Almost of all London’s unis will see staff walk out on the first three days of next month
As a result of the vote earlier this month, UCU announced yesterday that “58 universities will be hit with three days of strike action from Wednesday 1 December to Friday 3 December” across the UK. Most of London’s unis will be affected by these strikes next month and some form of “action short of strike” until the summer.
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said the strikes are a response to “university bosses [refusing] to revoke unnecessary, swingeing pension cuts or even to negotiate on issues like casualisation and the unbearably high workloads that blight higher education.”
The strikes are backed by the National Union of Students (NUS) but not by some of London’s Students’ Unions.
Earlier this month, UCU members across the UK voted on possible strike action in two separate ballots: one over pension cuts to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) and one over pay and UCU’s “four fights.”
Most staff at London unis voted to strike for both, while Imperial opted for USS only. An overwhelming percentage of those who voted said “yes” to some form of industrial action, but many London unis fall below the 50 per cent minimum turnout and is set to re-ballot.
Despite this, the strikes next month and some form of action short of strike are set to happened at these London unis:
Birkbeck, U of L (pay and pensions)
Goldsmiths, U of L (pay and pensions)
KCL (pay and pensions)
LSE (pay and pensions)
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (pay and pensions)
Royal Holloway, U of L (pay and pensions)
SOAS (pay and pensions)
UAL (pay only)
UCL (pay only, but set to re-ballot for pension)
Imperial (pension only)
These strikes might not be the only disruptions to the school year: UCU intends to “escalate its disputes next term” if their uni employers do not respond adequately to their claims.
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “a resolution to this dispute is simple. But if employers remain intent on slashing pensions and exploiting staff who have kept this sector afloat during a pandemic then campuses will face strike action before Christmas, which will escalate into spring with reballots and further industrial action.”
As for students’ response, the NUS recently conducted a research showing 73 per cent of students backing the strikes next month and launched a petition calling for officials to meet UCU’s demands. NUS President Larissa Kennedy said: “students have a rich history of standing shoulder to shoulder with university staff, who have seen their pensions, pay and conditions slashed in recent years, so I’m not surprised that they overwhelmingly support their campaign to secure a fairer settlement.”
But many Students’ Unions in London are not in favour of any disruption to an uni experience already interrupted by Covid.
In a statement, Students’ Union UCL said: “strikes lead to lost learning, delayed teaching, increased assignment stress – students suffer as a way to add pressure on UCL during negotiations.” They had decided not to support the strikes and will assist students during them by helping with accessing academic extensions, lobbying with the uni to turn withheld staff salaries into financial compensation for students, keep uni facilities and study spaces open, and pressure both parties to end the dispute as soon as possible.
KCLSU also voted to not support the strikes and said: “the prospect of students in their third year possibly completing their degree without a single year free from disruption is unimaginable.” They will also aim to provide similar support to students as their UCL counterparts.