Staff at more than 30 London unis to strike for three days at the end of November

UCU says the national strikes will be the ‘biggest ever to hit UK universities’ and ‘could impact 2.5 million students’

The Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) announced today nationwide strikes for academic staff on the 24th, 25th, and 30th of November.

In what the union calls “the biggest ever strikes to hit UK universities,” 70,000 UCU members at 150 universities, including 31 in London, will be walking out for better pay and conditions and no cuts to pensions. 

Action short of strikes will also start from 23rd November, which will see staff only doing work as required according to their contract and not covering for absent colleagues.

If no agreement is reached between them and the uni employers, the union threatens escalating strike actions and marking boycotts in the new year.

UCU represents academic staff such lecturers and tutors at universities and colleges across the UK. They have led industrial actions including strikes and marking boycotts over the past few years for disputes in pay, working conditions, and pensions. These are still the reasons behind the upcoming strikes.

The union confirmed with The Tab London on Twitter that amongst 150 universities nationwide, these London unis will be affected by strikes later this month:

  1. Birkbeck, University of London
  2. Brunel University London
  3. City, University of London
  4. Courtauld Institute of Art
  5. University of East London
  6. Goldsmiths, University of London
  7. University of Greenwich
  8. Imperial College London
  9. King’s College London
  10. Kingston University
  11. London Metropolitan University
  12. London School of Economics
  13. London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  14. London South Bank University
  15. Middlesex University
  16. Queen Mary, University of London
  17. Roehampton University
  18. Royal Academy of Music
  19. Royal Central School of Speech and Drama
  20. Royal College of Art
  21. Royal College of Music
  22. Royal Holloway, University of London
  23. Royal Veterinary College, University of London
  24. Senate House, University of London
  25. SOAS, University of London
  26. St George’s, University of London
  27. St Mary’s University, Twickenham
  28. University College London
  29. University of the Arts London
  30. University of West London
  31. University of Westminster

The decision to strike came after UCU announced on October 24th it had won a mandate for industrial action after 70,000 staff at 150 universities took part in two nationwide ballots.

This is the first time any education union achieved the legal requirement of at least 50 per cent voting turnout call a national strike, which means academic staff across the UK are called on to take action, and not just at individual universities that have voted for the action like in previous years.

Following these nationwide ballots, individual university UCU branches also voted on whether to strike. Then, at the Branch Delegate Meeting held at the end of October, representatives of each branch voted again in accordance with their local branches’ decision. The result from this meeting was further passed onto UCU’s National Higher Education Committee, who made the final decision to launch a nationwide strike.

Despite having disrupted almost a month of teaching with industrial actions last year, these recent plans by the UCU are still back with support from many.

Apsana Begum MP for Poplar and Limehouse in London, told The London Tab: “I think its absolutely appalling that University staff are having to ask again and again and again just so they can defend their pay, defend their pensions and defend their working conditions.”

And even though UCU claims the upcoming strikes “could impact 2.5 million students,” students are also amongst those supporting them.

Sebastian, a Master’s student at Queen Mary and the student liaison for the uni’s UCU branch, also told The London Tab he hoped “students and UCU members will see that students also stand to gain from standing up against exploitative employers whose policies are, ultimately, to the detriment of student experience.”

The National Union of Students (NUS)’s vice president, Chloe Field, said: “Students stand in solidarity with the 70,000 university staff across the UK who will strike later this month. Staff teaching conditions are students’ learning conditions, and we must fight together for a fairer, healthier education system for everyone who works and studies.

“Universities and employers must come to the table and take meaningful action to end these disputes. They have a responsibility to their staff and students to end unacceptable pay disparities for racialised staff, disabled staff, and women, and to protect staff pensions to that they can have a decent retirement. As the workers of the future, students have everything to gain from UCU members winning this fight.”

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