University lecturers strike report
Nick Savage, branch sec. Cambridge University AUT
AUT and The current Industrial Dispute in
In January and February, AUT members, who include lecturers,
researchers, administrators, librarians, computer staff and postgraduate
tutors, voted on industrial action.
66.65% voted for strike action and 81.2% voted to take action
short of a strike.
The turnout, in the postal ballot which began on 13 January, was an
The decision to hold an industrial action ballot was made after the
higher education employers' body, UCEA, dramatically called off
last-ditch talks after having failed to negotiate seriously over the
AUT's concerns about the pay and conditions offer made in July 2003.
AUT members are angry at new pay structures that - because of smaller
annual increments - would lead to many lecturers loosing £6,000 over
eight years, researchers losing £17,000 over nine years and senior
support staff losing £47,000 over 21 years.
University staff have lost 40% in comparison to the rest of the
workforce during the last two decades and these proposals will make that
situation worse. AUT also believes that the employers' proposals to
national bargaining and replace it with under-regulated localised
negotiations will make the pay situation worse for many. It would also
lead to a situation where staff would be paid according to where they
work, not what they do and there is evidence that where there is local
pay the pay gap between men and women is larger.
The week of industrial action from 23-27th February which was
co-ordinated with action by NUS against top up fees was a great success.
Many university campuses were shut down and there were rallies in
several major cities. The action is now continuing with a boycott of all
student assessment. This will mean lecturers refusing to set or mark
essays and exams and could mean delays in students being awarded their
It also worth noting that over 1,800 people have joined AUT since the
ballot for industrial action opened in