3 in 10 UCU members on strike during UCU’s eight-day action

7 January 2020

A UCEA spokesperson said: 

“HE institutions have been collating the figures for the 8 days of strike action* which was called by the University and College Union (UCU) between 25 November and 4 December 2019. The action was called at 58 universities** and was in pursuit of one or both of UCU’s disputes on USS and the 2019 pay round. As indicated in previous assessments UCEA received, participation from UCU members in the 58 universities affected was varied and the impact generally low***. The figures across the affected universities varied in both the size of the institution and the UCU branch but they indicate in the affected universities that 29.2% of UCU members took strike action over the 8-day period; this represents only 5% of all staff in these institutions.

“All 58 affected institutions regret strike action and any resultant disruption that is caused, especially to students. There are also concerns at the discussion within UCU of a further 14 days of strikes in 2020. The issue with the disaggregated ballot is that action relating to a national pay dispute with 147 HE institutions is pursued with just 56. All the institutions involved in the 2019-20 pay round are supportive of the continuing dialogue between UCEA and UCU and hopeful of it leading to an alternative resolution being put to UCU members.  This dialogue has been focusing on the potential for new sector-level work and commitments on the important issues raised around workload, gender pay gaps / ethnicity pay and casual employment. There are also substantive discussions going on between UCU and Universities UK aimed at resolving UCU’s dispute over USS.”

* All employers collate information about the numbers of their employees who have taken strike action and are obliged to supply these data to the Office for National Statistics. UCEA has assisted in this process by collating these data, as it has with previous sector-level disputes.

** UCU additionally called its members to take strike action (over USS) at two research institutes that are not members of UCEA. UCU conducted 147 separate ballots at all the HE institutions involved over its pay dispute and at 69 HE institutions over its USS dispute. The union called its members out on strike in relation to both disputes in the 42 universities where it had legal mandates to do so; at the other 18 institutions the strike was called over one or other of its disputes; 14 on pay alone and 4 on USS alone.

*** 79% of the universities affected reported generally low or no impact on teaching. Of those reporting low impact a third reported that they had pockets of medium impact and a quarter had pockets of high impact. 14.3% reported low impact across the whole institution and 4.1% reported no impact at all.


For further information please contact: Andy Fryer, Head of Communications and Membership  (a.fryer@ucea.ac.uk) or Marc Whittaker, Communications and Events Manager (m.whittaker@ucea.ac.uk) on 020 7383 2444.