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UCU Rising – Why are we in dispute and why you should vote yes in the reballot – members’ testimonies 

UCU members should have started to receive new ballot papers in the post. It is extremely important for members to send their completed ballots back as soon as possible. Our recent strike action has moved employers, but it is integral that we achieve a new mandate to keep the pressure on and ensure an end to this dispute that makes fundamental changes to the material conditions of staff. The closing date for the ballot is Friday 31st March, but the last safe posting date for your ballot is Tuesday 28th March.  

During the last round of strikes, we asked members on the picket why they were out, and why winning this dispute is so crucial for Higher Education.  Here are some of their comments:  


“I am on strike because precarity in the university sector is unsustainable. It means that casualised staff can’t make decisions about their lives. We deserve basic dignity and stability”
– Zosia Kuczyńska, English 

“I am on strike because it’s gone to the point where almost half the people at this university don’t have permanent contracts and that’s an outrageous working condition to be on. Some contracts are for less than 12 months which is insulting”
– Matthew Hunt, Languages Cultures and Linguistics 


“I always say that I am on strike because in all my 25 years at the university, I have never seen so many people in my department and other departments really stressed, overworked and unable to cope. There is too much work for the number of people who are employed, and it can’t go on. Something has to change. And we’ve been trying to change it for so many years. I think people are reaching the end of their tether and are basically ill with stress”
– Julie Herniman, Chemistry 

“I am on strike because I am sick of working 60 hours a week and only being paid for 35 of them.”
– Anon 

Pay and Pensions 

“There are lots of reasons why I am striking. I am on strike for myself, because my point on the pay scale is worth now about 25% less than it was worth a decade ago. What I am paying to my pension now is going to be worth about 35% less than it would have been worth 3 or 4 years ago. I am also striking for my younger colleagues, who come out of PhD and go from casual contract to casual contract. If they do get a job, they are getting paid less than what I was getting paid. Their entire lives they are going to pay into a pension that is going to be worth a huge amount less than mine. Women or various other groups are not going to have it as good as me either.”
– Nick Clarke, Geography 

“I want a decent pension when I retire. I want a living wage. I want less casualization and exploitation in the sector, that pay is more equal, and pay inequalities are taken more seriously”
– Jo Hope, Health Sciences 

In addition, we gathered quotes from supportive students who understand that staff working conditions have a direct impact on their learning experience at the university: 

“If the university’s lecturers are working in conditions where they can barely plan for the future and have no guaranteed pensions, it puts so much pressure on them that they are not going to be able to deliver people a proper education”
– Mac, Philosophy student 

The above are just a snapshot of the responses gathered, and we will be sharing more of these across the duration of the ballot period on Twitter. These problems persist, and we need to fight for a Higher Education sector that enables those working and learning within it to thrive, not just survive.  

Vote early, vote yes. 


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