Universities UK said that "students do not deserve any further disruption"Varsity

Cambridge is amongst universities who will take part in strike action over cuts to staff pensions. Strikes will potentially take place before Christmas, with disruption to teaching looking likely.

This comes after 71% of members of the Cambridge branch of University and College Union (UCU) voted in favour of striking. 86.8% of members backed action short of a strike. The result of another strike ballot over pay and working conditions will be announced tomorrow (05/11).

Jo Grady, the UCU’s general secretary, said: “These results are a clear mandate for strike action over pension cuts and should be heard loud and clear by university employers.

“Staff in universities have given their all to support students during the pandemic but management have responded by trying to slash their guaranteed pension by 35%. In a ballot window of just three weeks our members have made it abundantly clear that they will not accept these vindictive attacks on their retirement.

“It is now in the gift of employers to avoid strike action, which is the outcome staff want as well.”


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37 of the 68 universities balloted passed the statutory threshold for strike action. Cambridge will join Edinburgh, Belfast, Liverpool and the Open University. Cambridge Student Union (SU), previously voted to support strike action. 

On 12th November, the UCU’s higher education executive will discuss how and when strikes will take place. According to The Guardian, some UCU branches have urged action to take place before Christmas.

This round of strikes follows on from the industrial action taken at the beginning of 2020, before the first national lockdown. The strikes disrupted a large portion of the Cambridge term, shorter than that of other universities.

The dispute over pension cuts in question is linked to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), in which lecturers, researchers, technicians, librarians and administrators at universities are enrolled. UCU claims that annual pension cuts total 35%, while Universities UK (UUK), which defends higher education employers, puts the figure at between 10% and 18%. They also claim that the cuts are financially necessary.

The UUK has condemned potential strike action, stating that “After a difficult 18 months, students do not deserve any further disruption. It is unclear why UCU thinks it’s appropriate for students to suffer due to the scheme’s increased costs and the regulatory constraints under which pensions operate in the UK.”