Union disputes 2021-22

Following the conclusion of the disputes resolution process UCEA wrote to the trade unions on 26 July confirming the final position.
 UCEA Dispute process conclusion letter - 26 July 2021

Current position -  UCU industrial action
Out of the 146 HEIs re-balloted by UCU during March and April, UCU currently have a mandate for a marking and assessment boycott and other forms of action short of strike at less than 10 HEIs and a mandate for strike action at less than five HEIs.

UCU industrial action and re-ballots
In November 2021 UCU balloted HEIs that UCEA represented in the New JNCHES 2021-22 pay round and HEIs with the USS pension scheme. The ballots closed on 4 November and were disaggregated. UCU won mandates for strike and action short of strike (ASOS) at 58 HEIs out of 152 HEIs balloted in total - 21 on pay only, 33 on pay and pensions and 4 on pensions only. UCU then announced three days of strike action on 1, 2 and 3 December as well as ASOS in the form of working to contract (terminating no later than 3 May 2022), with members at a further 6 HEIs taking ASOS only.  UCU later escalated its ASOS to include:

  • Only working contracted hours and duties and not volunteering to do more (from 1 December 2021).
  • Not rescheduling classes and lectures cancelled due to strike action (from 21 December 2021).
  • Not covering for absent colleagues (from 5 January 2022).
  • Removing uploaded materials related to, and/or not sharing materials related to, lectures or classes that will be or have been cancelled as a result of strike action (from 5 January 2022).

On 6 December 2021, UCU started re-ballots of 42 HEIs. The re-ballots were disaggregated and closed on 14 January 2022 and resulted in mandates at a further 10 HEIs giving overall mandates of 39 on pay and the USS pension scheme, 24 on pay only and 5 on the USS pension dispute only. UCU announced a further 10 days of strike action as follows:

  • 5 days' strike action from 14 - 18 February 2022 (inclusive) in respect of the USS dispute
  • 2 days' action on 21 and 22 February 2022 in respect of both the USS dispute and the pay dispute
  • 3 days' strike action on 28 February, 1 and 2 March 2022 in respect of the pay dispute

UCU then announced a further 10 days of strike action at the 68 HEIs where it had a mandate, as follows:

  • 5 days’ strike action from 21 – 25 March 2022 at 38 HEIs
  • 5 days’ strike action from 28 March – 1 April 2022 at the remaining 30 HEIs

In March 2022, UCU gave notice for further re-ballots at all 146 HEIs that participated in the New JNCHES pay round 2021-22, on pay, with re-ballots also at HEIs with the USS pension. The ballots closed on 8 April and were disaggregated.  HEIs were included in re-ballots where branches had already won mandates in previous ballots.  Of the re-balloted HEIs, UCU has secured a mandate for industrial action at 39 branches as follows:

  • 37 HEIs have secured a mandate for strike action and ASOS.
  • 2 HEIs have secured a mandate for ASOS only.   

The results for strike action break down as follows:

  • 23 HEIs (reduced from 36) where there are mandates on pay and USS.
  • 13 HEIs (reduced from 24) where there is a mandate on pay only.
  • 1 HEI (reduced from 5) where there is a mandate on USS only. 

Of the 65 HEIs where UCU had an existing mandate, they lost a mandate in 32 HEIs and gained a mandate in 3 HEIs.  UCU secured an additional mandate at an HEI where they had previously secured a mandate for ASOS only. 

UNISON ballots
UNISON held disaggregated ballots of members for strike action on pay at 37 of the 146 participating HEIs and also balloted at 18 HEIs regarding the USS.The ballots closed at the end of January 2022 and UNISON won mandates at 9 HEIs on pay and 3 HEIs on the USS (2 of which were from the 9 pay HEIs), resulting in mandates at 10 HEIs. UNISON called for a further period of strike action at 8 HEIs, spread over a three-week period starting on 24 March and ending on 8 April.

Not all branches were UNISON have a mandate took strike action and not all branches took action on each date: some were on strike on 5 days, some for 2 days and for 1 day at 1 branch.

Unite ballots
Unite balloted members at 5 London-based HEIs for strike action in relation to the 2021-22 New JNCHES pay round. The ballots were disaggregated and closed on 8 April. Unite have secured a mandate at 2 HEIs.

EIS ballot 
EIS undertook an aggregated ballot of members in HEIs in Scotland. The ballot closed on 8 December with the result that EIS does not have a mandate for industrial action. 

GMB are still considering balloting for industrial action.