All Student Vote (Autumn 2022)
What stance should Warwick SU take in UCU strike action?
this motion asks to either support UCU in their strike action for better pay, working conditions and pensions or to oppose strike action for no disruption to their teaching
Please see the supporting and opposing cases for the motion under each case.
Warwick SU supports UCU in their strike action, for better pay, working conditions and pensions
The Union Notes.
- The Universities College Union (UCU) will be striking on pay, pensions and working conditions.
- Research conducted by the Union has found that a series of below-inflation pay offers has resulted in a 25.5% pay cut for university staff since 2009. Universities and Colleges Employers Associations’ (UCEA) final offer is still below inflation (which stands at RPI 12.3% as of August 2022).
- Changes to the USS Pension Scheme, which many staff are members of, mean that an average member is expected to pay around £40,000 more over their careers, but will get £200,000 less out of the fund over the course of their retirements. UUK’s pensions cuts will see a typical lecturer lose at least 35% of their guaranteed retirement income. Retirement benefits will only be protected against inflation up to 2,5% in the future. Inflation currently stands at RPI 12.3% as of August 2022. 
- These changes were implemented based on an old valuation of the USS Pension Scheme, after the markets crashed during Covid, however the total value of the USS pension scheme has increased by £22.5bn. Despite this increase in the value of the scheme's assets, staff are still facing the same cuts to their pensions. Universities UK (UUK) has rejected
- alternative proposals by UCU which suggested a slight increase in contribution for both members and employers to protect benefits.
- According to data gathered by UCU, 70.0% of all academic staff at the University of Warwick are on insecure contracts. UCU members are under tremendous stress and pressure due to their workloads, made worse by these casualised and hourly paid contracts.
- There has been a 316% increase in staff access to counselling services at University of Warwick, with the report mentioning that UK universities have become ‘anxiety machines’ where staff suffer from excessive workloads, precarious contracts and a culture of workplace surveillance.
- The pay gap between Black and white staff stands at 17% and the disability pay gap is 9%. The mean gender pay gap is 16% and at the current rate of change it will not be closed for another 22 years.
- Postgraduate research students are part of UCU’s membership and will be the future academic staff.
This Union Believes
- UCU has proposed an offer to USS as a way out of disruptive industrial action. This has been rejected by UUK
- Strike action is the last resort for staff members; however, they have been forced into a corner by Universities UK and UCEA, who are negotiating staff pay and pensions with UCU.
- Students’ Union should stand should shoulder with staff members. When students are either neutral or do not support staff, our voices get used against them, prolonging the dispute.
- Casualisation and pension reduction will impact the quality of teaching. Staffs’ working environment is the students learning environment, and if pay cuts and pension reductions impact staff, this will negatively affect students’ education and the whole University community.
- All staff deserve fair pay and pensions, and Warwick SU has a responsibility to stand in full solidarity with university staff in their dispute for better pay, working conditions and pensions.
- Low pay, precarity, and pressured working and learning conditions contribute to fuelling Warwick's mental health crisis among staff and students.
- By supporting UCU’s action, we are also fighting for better conditions for our own postgraduate members.
- Victory for staff in their industrial dispute is, therefore the only possible resolution to this dispute in the interests of students.
- The more support staff have from students, the quicker we can bring this dispute to a resolution.
- Universities UK is responsible for any industrial action taking place as they refused to compromise with UCU.
This Union Resolves
- That the Student Union and its Sabbatical Officers issue a statement in support of UCU Staff taking strike action for better pay, working conditions and pensions and provide continued support throughout the action should action go ahead.
- To make sure students are informed as to what is going on during the strike, by running events and making social media posts to outline the reasons staff have for taking strike actions, and why it is important to support the staff in this dispute. This should be led by the VP Postgraduate Officer, VP Welfare and Campaigns and VP Education.
- To support and make provisions for students and staff during the UCU dispute, including space inside the SU as well as providing educational resources.
- To support student protest in solidarity with UCU.
- To mandate the SU President, VP Education Officer, VP Postgraduate Officer and VP Welfare and Campaigns Officer to meet with Warwick UCU to discuss how the SU can support staff in the course of the dispute.
- To mandate the SU President, VP Education Officer, VP Postgraduate Officer and VP Welfare and Campaigns Officer to lobby the University to:
- Support UCU’s demands.
- Lobby our Vice Chancellor to write to Universities UK to ask them to resume negotiations and to compromise.
- Lobby the University to put pay docked from striking staff members into a hardship fund for students.
- Affirm to staff their right to withdraw their labour
- Not to take measures undermining this withdrawal e.g. crossing the picket line.
7. This motion relates to this current dispute and will be acted on solely for this immediate strike action this academic year if passed.
 Higher education staff suffer 'epidemic' of poor mental health | Higher education | The Guardian
 UCU - FAQs
Warwick SU opposes UCU in their strike action, for no more disruption to teaching
This Union Notes:
This section should include any facts, figures or statements that you believe are relevant to the topic of your policy. Remember in this section clear and effective referencing is important.
- Since the Coronavirus pandemic began teaching has been disrupted every year with it being reduced, cancelled outright or moved online. 1
- That SU’s are starting to stand up against disruption to teaching. 2
- That the University and College Union (UCU) are currently balloting their membership regarding industrial action
- That Warwick UCU has recently voted in favour of industrial action3
- That the national UCU recently held several weeks of strikes in late 2019, early 2020 and 2021. 4 5
- The most recent survey found that 76% of students want to have teaching as usual compared to just 24% of students who would rather miss out. 6
- That tuition fees for home undergraduate students are currently £9250 whilst fees for overseas students are often considerably more. 7 8
This Union Believes:
This section should include opinions or supporting statements for your policy.
- That after three academic years plagued by strike action, national lockdowns, hybrid teaching and disruption to the quality and quantity of teaching, any further strike action would be grossly unfair for students and only serve to further damage the student experience.
- That university teaching staff are entitled to fair pay and fair pensions but shouldn’t punish students in order to achieve this.
- That it is in students interests to receive the teaching that they have paid so much money for
- That UCLSU did the right thing by backing an end to disruption to teaching.
This Union Resolves:
This section should be about how you want the SU to react, the outcome of this policy. Remember to mandate specific departments/sabbatical officers; this will make things easier for future accountability
- To mandate that the SU Sabbatical Officers release a statement condemning strike action should the UCU ballot succeed.
- To mandate the Education Officer to lobby the Warwick UCU not to take strike action should the ballot succeed.
- This motion relates to this current dispute and will lapse once it has ended this academic year if passed.