UCU’s own staff to strike for 5 more days

Unite says it hopes the new strike dates will "really focus the minds of senior managers"

Unite says it hopes the new strike dates will "really focus the minds of senior managers"

12 Jun 2024, 16:22

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Fresh strike days have been confirmed in an ongoing industrial dispute between the University and College Union (UCU) and its unionised staff.

Unite the Union, which is said to represent 80 per cent of UCU workers, plans to strike on five days between June 26 and July 11, targeting meetings the UCU’s general secretary Jo Grady is planning to hold with members across the country.

Unite members will also begin an overtime ban and work to rule action, where members will strictly adhere to their contracted roles, working hours and break times.

ACAS assisted talks are understood to have taken place on June 10 and are also scheduled for today and June 17.

But Unite said it has scheduled the new strike days ahead of further talks on June 17 to “really focus the minds of senior managers” on the need for “real change” for staff.

The dispute centres around complaints of what Unite calls “a culture of racism”, breaches of a collective agreement and “broken industrial relations”.

A spokesperson for UCU said both sides met through ACAS on June 10 discuss a “series of proposals” and made a “firm agreement” to meet again.

They added: “We are committed to ongoing talks to find solutions and create the best possible working environment for our staff.

“We remain hopeful that a positive outcome will be achieved and are disappointed that mentions of further strike action have been made before further agreed discussions have taken place.”

Dispute not taken ‘seriously’

A spokesperson for Unite said senior managers at the UCU have “not taken this dispute seriously” so far, even after a strike two weeks ago that disrupted the second day of the education union’s national congress.

At the time, UCU secretary Grady said her staff were doing “everything possible” to reach a settlement.

But Unite accused UCU senior management of failing to enter “meaningful talks” about calling off the conference strike, claiming this was a betrayal of the “whole union movement”.

At the conference, members passed motions calling for an independent investigation into “dysfunctional workplace culture”, for UCU to respect Unite’s recognition as the recognised union for collective bargaining and an independent review of “institutional racism” at UCU.

Examples of racism allegations are reportedly use of “disproportionate” use of dismissal related procedures against black staff.

It blames concerns about how the organisation is run, including “toxic workplace behaviours” for “eye-watering” levels of stress related absences.

This follows a ‘notice of contravention’ of health and safety laws issued by the Health and Safety Executive last year over a “lack of suitable and sufficient risk assessment” to deal with work related stress.

According to a letter from HSE, published by Unite on X, formerly known as Twitter, last year, there was a “significant increase” in absences reported due to “mental ill-health”. However, UCU bosses have said they “firmly reject” complaints of disciplinary measures against black staff being disproportionate.

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