As you’ll be aware, a strike has been called by UCU after the breakdown of negotiations over devastating changes to the USS pension scheme and the UUK’s refusal to work with the UCU to end the rampant levels of inequality in our workplaces and to make sure that people can actually afford to live on the pay for the jobs they do. There are two reasons UCU members are going on strike.
First, after having successfully fought back the attacks to our pensions two years ago, UUK and USS have returned with a new round of attacks. The USS have disregarded the recommendations and valuations of the Joint Expert Panel (JEP), which was established to end the 2018 dispute, and have instead scheduled massive contribution increases.
Second, UCU members are striking to fight for the rights of casualised, female and BAME staff. Growing numbers of staff are working on short-term or precarious contracts that don’t pay them enough to make ends meet. There is also a persistent gender, racial and sexual orientation pay gap. This means that at Warwick, for instance, women earn 74p for every £1 earned by men and BAME staff are paid an average of 25% less than their white colleagues. This action is about stopping the downgrading of pensions, ending casualisation and closing the gender and racial pay gap.
At Warwick, these ballots for industrial action produced an unprecedented. For the pay, casualization and gender pay gap ballot ballot, there was a 58.7% turn out with with 76.77% voted yes to strike action and 87% voting yes for action short of a strike. For the pensions ballot, there was a 59.3% turnout with 82% voting to take strike action and 89.8% voting to take action short of a strike.
The first round of strikes will take place for 8 days between the 25th November and the 4th of December. Those striking will lose 8 days of pay. Most will absorb this loss. However, some colleagues will find this loss hits them so hard that they will struggle to make ends meet, especially in the run up to the holidays.
This includes our colleagues, including PhD students, on hourly-paid contracts. For example, seminars relating to a cancelled lecture won’t happen and colleagues who had been planning for that income won’t be able to claim for those sessions.
The local union, Warwick UCU, has set up a fund to support vulnerable members hardest hit by the loss of pay. Please contribute to this hardship fund to help the most vulnerable of our colleagues. £20 from everyone will go a long way. Not everyone is a member of the union, but everyone who works for the university, and is part of the university community, will benefit if this industrial action succeeds.
If you wish to donate, please check out the details on the ‘solidarity fund’ post.
The number of UCU members at Warwick (https://warwickucu.org.uk/) has increased dramatically over the last couple of years. You can of course join the union at any point, here: https://www.ucu.org.uk/join. The more, the stronger.
Warwick UCU Committee