Additional strike action at the University of St Andrews is set to take place for five days, beginning on Monday 16 April and ending on Friday 20 April.
UCU St Andrews is one of only 13 branches of the UCU to have planned additional strike action.
proposal on the table
All UCU branches are mandated to take an additional 14 days of strike action following UK-wide strikes earlier this year. However, another proposal from Universities UK is now being considered by the UCU.
A ballot, for which a date has not yet been set, is due to be presented to all members of the UCU on whether or not to accept the proposal.
Subsequently, many UCU branches across the UK have elected to postpone their additionally mandated 14 days of action until the ballot takes place and the results are counted.
A minority of UCU branches, St Andrews included, have chosen not to wait for the results.
The following UCU branches have chosen to schedule additional strike action:
University of Cardiff
University of Dundee
University of Leeds
University of Manchester
University of Oxford
University of Salford
University of Southampton
University of St Andrews
Bangor University will only be holding strike days on April 16, 17 and 19.
UUK’s main proposal is the creation of a “Joint Expert Panel”, comprised of actuarial and academic experts nominated in equal numbers from both UCU and UUK.
I’m assuming the ballot will not include a ‘stick it up your arse’ answer
However, many members of the UCU are skeptical of the deal proposed and plan to vote against it.
One St Andrews UCU member, Catherine Cross, wrote on her blog “I’m assuming the ballot will not include a ‘stick it up your arse’ answer.”
A spokesperson for UCU St Andrews said, “The timing of the strike days implies nothing about the attitude of UCU St Andrews to the proposals that will be put to ballot next week.”
They further asserted, “UCU St Andrews is committed to the UK-wide industrial action in defence of pensions. The attack on our pensions is a serious threat to the quality of education at St Andrews. As one of the placards held by students supporting striking staff puts it: ‘your working conditions are our learning conditions’. UCU is engaged in dispute because we believe decent pay and pensions for all staff in universities are necessary for both staff and students to thrive.”
dates were chosen by the local branch members
In an email to students, Principal Sally Mapstone said, “I am sorry that the long-running national dispute over staff pensions has not been resolved over the break and I have to inform you that the Union has announced a further week of strike action in St Andrews.”
She continued, “We had asked our UCU colleagues not to disrupt students’ studies any further, but St Andrews is amongst thirteen universities where the UCU has served notice of a further week of strike action, commencing on 16 April. UCU has confirmed that these dates were chosen by the local branch members, as part of a nationally co-ordinated campaign.”
UCU branches across the UK have already taken 14 days of strike action, and are mandated for another 14.
UCU St Andrews continued, “At a UK-level, UCU called for a second wave of 14 days of strike action. The days on which action will take place have been co-ordinated across the UK in consultation with branches. If some branches are not taking action 16-20 April, they will be taking the same number of strike days in total on different dates.”
However, it is possible that other branches will not take further strike action if the proposals being put forward to UCU members in a ballot are approved.
With UCU St Andrews taking five days of action on April 16-20, their mandate allows for an additional nine days which leaves open the possibly of further disruption to studies later in the semester.