Statement from Cambridge UCU

Strike action is a hard choice for us to make: delivering education and research is what we are here for. But we have been left with no option. Our members are at breaking point after dealing with the cumulative impact of years of pay cuts, rising workloads and worsening inequality – with women, BAME, and disabled colleagues hardest hit. Our pensions remain under threat, despite the strike action taken last year. 

It would be irresponsible of us to ignore the growing crisis in higher education, which not only impacts staff but also the quality of the education that current and future students receive. 

Our demands are just and reasonable: 

  • No increase in employee pension contributions (currently +1.6%) 
  • A real-terms increase in baseline pay, not further real-terms cuts against RPI
  • Concrete action on inequality pay gaps (starting with the gender pay gap) 
  • Concrete action to reduce casualisation and job insecurity
  • Concrete action to reduce workloads 

Support for a strike and action short of a strike is high among Cambridge UCU members who are preparing for serious and sustained action across departments and faculties. Our branch membership has seen dramatic growth since 2018 and we have hundreds of members set to walk out. 

We welcome the support already shown from students to the UCU locally from the Cambridge University Students Union, who passed a motion supporting our strike action in October 2019. We encourage them to join us on the picket lines and teach outs during the action, and to also write to the Vice Chancellor in support of the action and calling on him to push for employers nationally to meet the union’s demands. 

The University of Cambridge leadership has enormous influence within the higher education sector and could make a critical difference in helping to resolve these disputes. 

We’re calling on the Vice Chancellor to put the interests of staff and students first with a public statement, calling on national employers’ bodies UUK and UCEA to meet UCU’s demands, as well as setting out the University of Cambridge’s plans to meet our demands listed above. 

We are striking and taking action because we believe that the future of our profession, our universities, and education of the next generation are at stake. The ball is in the employers’ court now. They have an opportunity to redress past inequalities and set up a positive future for higher education. We urge them to take it.