HE national disputes 2021

Boycott Leicester

Autumn action fists

UCU higher education ballot timetable for action

22 September 2021

On Monday, your elected representatives on UCU's higher education committee (HEC) decided the timetable for UK-wide industrial action over USS pension cuts and Four Fights (pay, workload, casualisation, and equality).

As delegates from branches decided at the higher education special sector conference on 9 September, the ballots and disputes over USS and the Four Fights are separate but will run at the same time, meaning some members will have two ballots to complete, others one. 

The timetable for action on both USS and Four Fights is: 

  • Monday 18 October - ballots open 
  • Thursday 4 November - ballots close 
  • Monday 8 November - HEC meets to consider results 

Institutions being balloted are listed here.

I know some of you will be anxious about another round of industrial action, after strikes in 2019/20, and of course the pandemic, which has been incredibly tough for staff and students alike.

But actually, students support us. They recognise that staff working conditions are student learning conditions, and today I am pleased to announce that the National Union of Students (NUS) has agreed to support our campaign. Staff - student solidarity will be essential in holding the line and winning what you deserve.

The truth is that we have tried to negotiate and compromise with employers, but they haven't even met us half way. So, we have no option but to escalate and try to win change through collective action.  

The challenge for all of us now is to ensure we maximise participation in the upcoming ballots and the subsequent industrial action. That means beginning conversations over these vital issues immediately with colleagues - and getting involved in your local branch if you haven't already.

This Thursday 23 September at 1:45pm to 2:30pm, UCU will be hosting an all-member online meeting via Zoom and our Facebook channel, which you can register for here. 

You should feel no guilt in agreeing to take industrial action. Huge cuts to pensions, declining pay, unbearably high workloads, rampant casualisation and shocking gender and race pay gaps are not immovable facts of nature. We can change each and every one of them for the better if we stand together. 

Be under no illusion, I am committed to putting the full weight of the union behind each and every one of you. 

Yours in solidarity, 

Jo Grady
UCU general secretary 

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