Cardiff University staff vote for strike action in ballot over pay and working conditions
Staff at Cardiff University have voted in favour of strike action in a dispute over pay and working conditions which could see some higher education institutions hit by further disruption this academic year.
The university was the only one in Wales to reach the 50% legal threshold of UCU members voting in favour of industrial action. Other Welsh universities fell short including Swansea at 46%, Aberystwyth at 35%, and Bangor at 26%.
Cardiff joins 35 other UK universities that have a mandate to take strike action over pay and working conditions which will last until October 2022. 38 universities in total also backed action short of a strike.
Staff at some universities have already taken 13 days of strike action this academic year alongside action short of a strike consisting of working to contract and not taking on additional duties.
University employers represented by the Universities and Colleges Employers Association have so far refused to enter negotiations with UCU, who say that inflation means that staff pay is now down by more than a quarter in real terms since 2009.
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “More than seven in ten UCU members have again voted in favour of strike action, which is a damning indictment of the way vice-chancellors run universities and treat their staff.
“Pay for university workers has fallen by over a quarter in real-terms since 2009 whilst tens of thousands are exploited on precarious contracts and a workload crisis goes unresolved.
“Even during this almost unprecedented cost of living crisis, vice-chancellors on eye-watering salaries – who manage institutions sitting on tens of billions of pounds in reserves – have shown zero willingness to listen to their staff and are more intransigent than ever.
“Our union will now be taking these latest ballot results to a special meeting of its higher education sector where members will discuss how they wish to use this new mandate for action.”
However, Raj Jethwa, Chief Executive of the Universities and Colleges Employers Association, said that the UCU’s mandate was “diminishing” and they should move on from “antagonism towards meaningful engagement with employers”.
“In the union’s third ballot of members over last year’s pay outcome, UCU has received mandates at just 36 HE institutions out a total of 141,” he said.
“It is now nearly nine months since employees covered by the national pay negotiations received their pay uplift. The failure to achieve mandates at more than a quarter of HE institutions suggests that most HE staff have moved on from last year’s balanced outcome.
“We trust that the UCU will continue to engage constructively in this year’s multi-employer negotiating round which began on the 30 March. HE employers have committed to present the trade unions with an opening pay offer prior to the next meeting on 25 April, for a pay uplift from 1 August 2022.”
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