UCU members are taking strike action in two national disputes, one over pension cuts and one over pay and working conditions. Leeds University UCU members will be taking action on both pensions, and pay and working conditions
UCU has called on university bosses to urgently start negotiating to avoid disruption across UK campuses over this academic year. The disputes are over cuts of 35% to guaranteed pensions, pay cuts, casualisation, equality pay gaps and unsafe workloads.
Our mandate comes from an aggregated ballot across most branches in the HE sector. In the pension ballot, 89% voted for strike action and 85% voted in favour of action short of strike. In the pay & working conditions ballot 81% backed strike action with 8% voting for action short of strike.
The union is asking for pension cuts, which even the pension company USS have acknowledged were unnecessary, to be reversed and for previous benefit levels to be restored; and for employers to improve their pay offer and commit to meaningful agreements and action on casualisation, workload, and equality pay gaps. But employers are currently refusing to revoke pension cuts or to even acknowledge issues like casualisation.
Staff pay has fallen by 25% after thirteen years of below inflation pay offers; one third of academic staff are on insecure contracts; the gender pay gap sits at 16% and the most recent Higher Education Statistics Agency figures reveal that, of 22,810 professors in the UK, under a third (27%) were women and only 155 (1%) were black. In a recent survey, 33% of staff described their workloads as unmanageable
As well as the three day walkout in November, and a further 18 days of notified strike action in February and March, staff at all striking universities have a mandate to take action short of strike. This will also begin on Wednesday 23rd November and will include strictly working to contract and refusing any additional duties. This is set to go on indefinitely for the five months staff have a mandate to take industrial action for. A reballot has also been announced with a view to extending our mandate beyond April into the summer marking period.
A recent report by the Office for Students shows total remuneration for vice chancellor’s averages £269k.
Our branch’s hardship fund prioritises the lowest paid strikers, which includes postgraduate students whose income is from giving infrequent hourly-paid lectures. We are seeking donations from the rest of the labour movement and those who support our fight to save higher education from the ravages of marketisation. To donate send by direct bank transfer to: UCU Leeds LA29 (Hardship Fund), Unity Trust Bank, Account Number: 20391511, Sort Code: 60-83-01.
There is a national UCU fighting fund, which is vital because this is a national dispute and includes some much smaller branches. Donating to the national UCU fighting fund will also help us to sustain this fight.
This page was last updated on 27 January 2023