The strikes will only affect one day of Week Eight at Cambridge, but subsequent action after Christmas could cause further disruptionLouis Ashworth

Dates for industrial action over pay and pensions were confirmed by the University and College Union (UCU) today (16/11). Cambridge University is one of 58 UK institutions whose staff will walk out for three days next month.

Cambridge is among 33 universities who, in early November, voted to strike on two separate issues – pension cuts, and the “Four Fights” (pay, workloads, casualisation and equality). 

UCU president Jo Grady said: “[the union] has repeatedly asked employers to meet with us to try to resolve these disputes. But while we set out pragmatic solutions that could halt widespread disruption to UK campuses, university bosses refuse to revoke unnecessary, swingeing pension cuts or even to negotiate on issues like casualisation and the unbearably high workloads that blight higher education.”

The strikes will only affect one day of Week Eight at Cambridge, but subsequent action after Christmas could cause further disruption. The strikes will be the fourth of their kind in as many years at Cambridge, including a round in 2020 which formed a part of the largest recorded strike action in UK higher education history. 

At Cambridge UCU, over the four fights, 71% voted in favour of a strike, with 86.8% prepared to take action short of a strike. Over pensions, 70.1% of branch members voted in favour of striking, and 85% voted for action short of strike.

UCU intends to escalate disputes next term if they are not resolved, claiming that “the three day strike will just be the start of sustained disruption for the sector if employers fail to negotiate.” They say that further action is likely to take place in spring, when universities which didn’t gain a mandate in the recent ballot would have a chance to join the strike.


Mountain View

Strikes in Cambridge: Current challenges, past efforts and pandemic struggles

Universities UK, who defend higher education employers, speaking on proposed action over pensions, stated that “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.”

National Union of Students President Larissa Kennedy, however, said: “Students have a rich history of standing shoulder to shoulder with university staff, who have seen their pensions, pay and conditions slashed in recent years… the onus for minimising disruption for students lies with university bosses: they must come back to the table to address the clear issues in how higher education is currently run.”

Cambridge UCU’s strike committee will meet this Thursday at 1pm to discuss details of the action.