UCL-UCU: *reminder* General Meeting today, Tuesday 5 April, 1-2pm

5 April 2022

Next stages in USS & 4 Fights disputes: Members survey, motions & delegates for April conferences

This is a reminder for today’s Extraordinary General Meeting (1-2pm) called to vote on motions and delegates for the Special HE Sector Conferences on 20 and 27 April.

We took the unusual step of extending the opportunity to debate the way forward over last Thursday’s General Meeting and yesterday’s member’s meeting. Now we need to meet and make some decisions.

Motions received for debate are in Appendix 1 below.

Member survey on action. We have received over 200 responses to our survey on future industrial action, which we will summarise at the meeting.

Ballot for industrial action

Please vote if you have not done so already! The last safe date for posting is tomorrow, Wednesday 6 April. The ballot will close this Friday 8 April at 5 pm. Members can hand-deliver ballot papers even on Friday to Civica Election Services, 33 Clarendon Rd, N8 0NW.

  • Please vote to give your negotiators leverage. Whether we take industrial action or not, it is really important that we retain the ability to take action.
  • Although we have recently seen the employers attempt to brazen out strikes, the credible threat of industrial action can yield results.
  • In terms of the specific action members might undertake, your union branch is debating the next steps in Term 3 at our General Meeting today.

USS pension. Following last week’s news that the projected deficit had declined to zero, the sobering news is that benefits could have been protected had UUK chosen to act. UCL UCU wrote to the Provost and Chair of Council yesterday to ask them to use their position with UUK to revisit the current changes.

It is entirely possible, albeit unorthodox, to revoke changes at the earliest opportunity, for example were legal action successful. Or a compromise could be explored pending a new valuation. Sometimes new mechanisms may be introduced outside the rules of USS e.g., the setting up of the Joint Expert Panel in 2018.

Pay / cost of living. Since this is the period when universities budget for next year, it is essential to keep up the pressure. Addressing casualisation, workload and pay inequality all add to the staff budget, e.g. paying for bridging between grants, increasing staffing levels or promoting staff. We are in dispute over last year’s 1.5% pay offer, but were UCU to receive a significant offer for next year we would clearly need to put it to members.

It matters what happens at UCL. We are one of the largest employers in the UK and in USS. Without a strong vote for industrial action, we will be disarmed at the point when we need to push for positive change.

UCL UCU Executive Committee



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Appendix: Motions received for debate

Motion 1 - Industrial Action plan

(This text is as circulated prior to Thursday’s General Meeting and introduced in that meeting.)

HESC resolves UCU will:

  1. Identify summer term dates with each branch.
  2. Call a comprehensive boycott of all summative marking from the start of summer term.
  3. Notify each employer of an initial two-week strike period from week 3 of term, stating that strikes may be avoided depending on the employer’s conduct, in particular that if the employer insists on disproportionate pay deductions for participation in ASOS then strikes will not be stood down.
  4. Notify further two-week strike periods to each employer prior to each subsequent strike.
  5. Ask branches to delegate two officers to coordinate with ROs and Head of HE to enact this plan.
  6. Call weekly Branch Delegate Meetings with voting powers to continually monitor the national situation.
  7. Ask members not taking ASOS to pledge a day’s pay a week to local hardship funds.
  8. Call an emergency appeal for the national Fighting Fund.

[150 words]



With inflation at record levels for 30 years and USS in crisis, members know we have to seize the moment. The proposed strategy in the motion requires branches to ensure that they have the organisation to carry out a marking boycott on the Liverpool model with regular strike organising meetings, and the capacity to take protracted strike action depending on the employer’s behaviour. Given that employers will certainly make threats of significant deductions and may carry them out, members who are not engaged in ASOS should be asked to donate at least a day’s pay each week to a local strike hardship fund.

This strategy is based on the lessons of Liverpool and framed by the recommendations of the Commission for Effective Industrial Action in particular Recommendation 4 on the conduct of ASOS, which emphasises that ASOS on assessment ‘should be as part of rather than a substitute for a broader strike centred strategy’ and the need for ‘a clear, worked out, well communicated plan to defend members in the event of 100% pay deductions’.

The strike action identified in the motion is not primarily conceived as national action but as a backup to ASOS, although specific national one-day strikes should be called as a focus, and branches should be permitted to decide on specific additional strategic dates.

It is entirely lawful to notify an employer of impending strike action but not to take it, and it is lawful (and rational) to make decisions as to whether to take strike action based on the actions of the employer. The proposed strike action is not declared to dispute or recover deductions but constitutes an additional course of industrial action should the employer make disproportionate deductions.