As support dwindles, the university staff union abandons planned UK-wide strikes.

A large number of campus branches decline to participate in the protest slated for September 25–29.
A week of nationwide strikes by the Universities and College Union have been called off after two-thirds of school chapters declined to participate.

Out of the 140 institutions where lecturers, librarians, and technicians were expected to participate after the UCU declared the planned walkout earlier this month, just 42 institutions will have a five-day strike starting on Monday. Next Monday, at least one day of a walkout at ten more universities will take place.

The strike action was scheduled to take place from September 25 to September 29, which would’ve coincided with freshmen’s week at many institutions. Particular branches had to decide if they wanted to participate.

The grading and assessment boycott, which had been in effect since April and had prevented some students from graduating or receiving their final grades in the summer, was lifted two weeks ago by the union. Participating employees saw a salary reduction.
“We have witnessed numerous businesses do the right things and agree to halt punitive pay deductions, and some additionally accepted returning what has been taken,” said Patrick Grady, the general secretary of the UCU.

“We are immediately calling off strikes at dozens of universities and urge other vice-chancellors to do the same. Additionally, this will free up our members to focus on obtaining the reballot and obtaining the wage and working conditions they merit.

“We will win this conflict by renewing our mission and applying continued pressure, but the industrial action scheduled for next week serves as an indication to all businesses that if you conduct egregiously, you will be facing further disruption,” the union stated.

In recent weeks, there has been intense discussion about the union’s strategies within the UCU, with some members upset that their self-sacrificing efforts in maintaining the marking boycotting may have been in vain. While the boycott persisted, many colleges withheld or withdrew 50% to 100% of salaries, costing some employees more than £10,000.

The UCU’s most recent ballot on industrial action, which began this week, may be in danger due to members’ declining desire for additional strikes, undermining its efforts to get better wages and working conditions. The strikes scheduled for the next week are the final ones that the union’s existing contract allows before it expires.

The UCU chapter at King’s College London decided against participating in the strikes after reaching an agreement with university administration that included an increase in pay of £800 and enhanced paternity and maternity leave policies.

The institution has committed to “a broad spectrum of advantages for every employee in order to build our flourishing staff community at King’s, including improvements to the London weighted allowance, childcare support, and paid parental leave,” according to a KCL spokesman.

The Colleges and Universities Employers Association’s Raj Jethwa expressed his appreciation for the majority of colleges calling off strikes.

It is therefore imperative to cooperate in order to put an end to the sector’s current cycle of labor disputes, according to Jethwa.

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