London unis to be hit with another round of strikes in February

14 London unis can see up to 10 days of staff walkout and a student strike


UCU has announced dates for industrial actions in February, which will impact 14 London unis.

14 to 18 February will see strikes for USS pensions, 28 February to 2 March will see those for UCU’s Four Fights, while 21 and 22 February will see joint action from both. This means that depending on what staff are fighting for, unis can see up to 10 days of strikes next month. The last day, 2 March, will also see a student strike organised by the National Union of Students (NUS).

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “This wave of strike action is a fight for the future of higher education and staff are proud to stand alongside students in the fight for an education system that treats students and staff with respect.”

London unis already saw three days of strikes last December, during which the UCU said it intended to “escalate its disputes next term” if uni employers do not respond and resolve their concerns.

These include a proposed 35 per cent cut to staff’s retirement pensions and the Four Fights over “a 20 per cent real term pay cut over the past 12 years, unmanageable workloads, pay inequality and the use of exploitative and insecure contracts.”

The UCU has presented proposals that can avert the February strikes if accepted by their employers. But as of now, the disputes remain unresolved, and the following London unis will see strikes on these dates:

Birkbeck, U of L (USS and Four Fights) – 14 to 18 February, 21 and 22 February, 28 February to 2 March

City, U of L (USS and Four Fights) – 14 to 18 February, 21 and 22 February, 28 February to 2 March

Goldsmiths, U of L (USS and Four Fights) – 14 to 18 February, 21 and 22 February, 28 February to 2 March

Imperial (USS) – 14 to 18 February, 21 and 22 February

KCL (USS and Four Fights) -14 to 18 February, 21 and 22 February, 28 February to 2 March

LSE (USS and Four Fights) -14 to 18 February, 21 and 22 February, 28 February to 2 March

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (USS and Four Fights) -14 to 18 February, 21 and 22 February, 28 February to 2 March

Queen Mary, U of L (USS and Four Fights) -14 to 18 February, 21 and 22 February, 28 February to 2 March

Royal College of Art (Four Fights) – 21 and 22 February, 28 February to 2 March

Royal Holloway, U of L (USS and Four Fights) -14 to 18 February, 21 and 22 February, 28 February to 2 March

SOAS, U of L (USS and Four Fights) -14 to 18 February, 21 and 22 February, 28 February to 2 March

UAL (Four Fights) – 21 and 22 February, 28 February to 2 March

UCL (Four Fights) – 21 and 22 February, 28 February to 2 March

University of Westminster (Four Fights) – 21 and 22 February, 28 February to 2 March

These will be in addition to the actions short of a strike (ASOS), like not taking on any voluntary teaching roles, that started last December and are expected to continue until May. Further actions, like a nationwide marking and assessment boycott, may happen if demands are still not met after these strikes.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady described the February actions as “a damning indictment of the way our universities are managed that [leaves staff] with no option but to walk out again.” 

A U of L lecturer echoed this to The London Tab last December, saying: “All academics deeply care about their students’ education, but as universities reduce outlay on staff, our workloads grow beyond nominal working hours.”

And it seems like many students sympathise with their struggles despite strikes causing disruptions to learning. NUS president Larissa Kennedy said: “Students’ unions and student organisers have a proud tradition of standing in solidarity with staff, and we saw this in action up and down the country in December.”

Many London student bodies who did not support the previous strikes, like Students’ Union UCL and KCLSU, have also recently reversed their stances to support actions this year.

The NUS president elaborated: “As students, we are acutely aware that staff working conditions are our learning conditions. The same education system that forces students into food banks exploits staff on insecure contracts, with some even having to sleep in tents while they mark our essays. The same system that produces awarding gaps that impact students of colour produces pay gaps that impact staff of colour.

“We will continue to stand with staff in their struggles because nothing about this broken system is inevitable.” 

A student strike organised by the NUS will happen on March 2.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

Students’ Union UCL to support UCU strikes after record-breaking turnout at referendum

We spoke to the UoL lecturers who were on strike

UCU imposes global boycott against Goldsmiths over controversial job cuts