On Wednesday, Oxford University and College Union announced that it would be joining industrial action and striking against the university as a result of disputes over USS pensions and pay and conditions at universities. They joined several other universities around the UK who have recently voted in favour of action.
On Thursday, 30th January, the union’s higher education committee will be meeting to discuss the next steps in the disputes.
Voting on the strikes took place between the 7th and 28th of January, after the vote on industrial action over pensions in December had fallen four votes short of the necessary 50% turnout threshold. There are potentially 74 universities around the UK which could experience strike action this term.
Over 60 universities experienced strike action between Monday 25th November and Wednesday 4th December last term. UCU claims that the upcoming industrial action is due to universities’ failures to make improved offers. The two disputes are related to changes in the Universities Superannuation Scheme, a UK private pension scheme which Oxford is a part of, and a failure by universities to make improvements on pay, equality, casualisation, and workloads.
As well as eight days of industrial action, UCU members used ‘action short of a strike;’ working only within the terms set by their contracts, and refusing to reschedule lectures that were cancelled due to the strikes.
After 3,500 people joined the union after the recent industrial action, the impact of these new strikes could be bigger than ever. In the latest ballots, 80% of UCU members supported striking over pensions and 76% backed strike over pay and conditions.
UCU general secretary Jo Grady announced that: ‘We have been clear from the outset that we are prepared to take serious and sustained action to defend pay and conditions, as well as our pensions, and these latest results show that members are just as determined as ever.’
Image credit: Cold Cream Coffee