By Sadie Robinson
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Universities ballot is a sign of growing anger

This article is over 2 years, 10 months old
Issue 2643


UCU union members at universities struck over pensions last spring
UCU union members at universities struck over pensions last spring (Pic: Guy Smallman)

UCU union members in universities have voted for strikes over pay—but missed the 50 percent threshold needed for legal walkouts.

Some 70 percent of those who voted backed strikes while over 80 percent supported action short of strikes. The turnout was 41 percent.

Carlo Morelli is a UCU rep at Dundee university and sits on the union’s national executive committee.

He told Socialist Worker that the turnout was “very, very good”.

“We clearly would have had a serious strike on our hands with that sort of turnout,” he said.


“It shows there is a very solid core of members who want to take action on this stuff. People know that the employers can afford to pay more.”

Jo McNeill, UCU Left candidate to be the union’s vice president, said workers had delivered “the highest turnout result this union has ever seen in postal pay ballots”.

She added that it was a “significant increase on past pay ballot turnouts”. “If we didn’t have to jump this 50 percent Tory turnout hurdle, we would be celebrating and preparing to take action,” she said.

The ballot involved around 70,000 workers across 143 universities.

It asked workers to vote for action over pay, the gender pay gap, insecure contracts and workloads.

The UCU said the vote showed “continuing anger about casualisation, workload and pay inequality”.

But it said the turnout was “disappointingly short” of the 50 percent threshold.

Carlo said, “Now we have to have a discussion about how we organise a national pay campaign.

“We can’t give up on fighting over pay or equality.”

  • Voting in UCU elections ends on Friday of this week.
    The UCU Left, which Socialist Worker supports, is backing Jo McNeill for vice president, and a number of candidates for other positions.
    Go to for details
  • The UCU London Region has called a national organising meeting for activists in central London on Saturday 2 March.
    It takes place from 12 noon until 3pm at University College London, 1-19 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7HB.


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