Socialist Worker

Ballots begin over pensions and conditions at universities

Issue No. 2777

On strike at Greenwich university in 2020 as part of the Four Fights dispute

On strike at Greenwich university in 2020 as part of the Four Fights dispute (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Workers in universities across Britain are voting on whether to strike over cuts to their pension scheme, unsafe workloads, casualisation and against inequalities.

The ballot, by UCU union members, began on Monday of this week. Activists protested outside the Universities & Colleges Employers Association on Monday morning to announce the start of the ballot.

Protesters held placards that highlighted the pay disparity faced by women, black and disabled people in the university sector.

Workers at 152 institutions will be balloted over two separate disputes. The first is against cuts by bosses body Universities UK to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).

Cuts to the USS scheme could mean that some workers could face as much as a 35 percent cut to their pensions.

The second dispute, known as the “four fights”, is over equal pay, casual contracts, workload and a real-term pay rise.

Workers at some universities are only balloting on one of these disputes, while others will be balloted for both.

Currently, workers at six institutions are being balloted over USS only, 78 will be balloted over the four fights and 68 will receive two ballots over both disputes. Voting is set to end on Thursday 4 November.

Two more weeks of action at Dundee

Low paid workers who are members of three unions at Dundee University were set to strike from Monday and Tuesday of next week.

Members of Unite, Unison and the UCU unions are fighting over pensions. Members of Unite were set to strike for two weeks from Monday. Unison members in three departments were also set to strike for two weeks.

Unison members already struck earlier this month and were joined by a small number of UCU members who were on the same local pension scheme.

Cleaners vote to fight on at University of Arts London

Outsourced cleaning workers at the University of the Arts London have voted to strike again. They are demanding the same terms and conditions as those directly employed by the university.

As it currently stands the outsourced cleaners don’t get access to sick pay or other benefits.

The members of the GMB union took to picket lines for a week earlier this month but so far the bosses haven’t listened to their demands.

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