Planned UCU strike action at UCL has been cancelled

Strikes were planned for the week starting September 25th

The UCL branch of the Universities College Union (UCU) announced on Friday that it would not continue with planned industrial action this week.

According to the union, there were multiple reasons for calling off the strike, including changes in UCL’s compensation protocol for marking assessments and a concern for staff-student relationships at the beginning of the academic year.

The announcement comes as many UCU branches across the country also called off strikes.

The aborted strike would have been the first of the 2023-2024 academic year and had signalled to many a tumultuous start to the year in terms of staff-employer relations at UCL. It would have been the sixth consecutive academic year marked by industrial action.

Union members at UCL have used strikes as leverage in their dispute with employers over salaries, casualisation, workloads and gender and racial pay gaps.

According to a UCL-UCU spokesperson, the decision to call off this week’s strike was made in a “well-attended branch meeting of some 240 members.” After a “lengthy debate”, members voted 126:102 in favour of cancelling the planned action. The union also said “this was not an easy decision to make.”

Many of the strikes nationwide were reportedly called off due to progress in pay negotiations with universities, particularly concerning a shift in how they compensate markers. While the UCU says UCL’s shift towards a proportional rate of pay “may have swayed members” to vote against strike action, “the strike was not about pay deductions.”

The union also cited other reasons for opting out, including that “members expressed concerns about impact on staff-student relationships at the start of term.”

Despite calling off the strikes, union members were “also concerned to express solidarity for colleagues on picket lines around the country this week, many in local disputes.”

They also said: “The cost of living crisis is bearing down on staff and students across the UK. Our colleagues are taking action for the next generation as much as for themselves: students who join the university workforce as postgrads and postdocs face the worst of insecure contracts, high workloads and career pay inequality.”

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