Yesterday (22 October 2018), Birmingham UCU narrowly missed the required 50% turnout in the UCU Pay and Equality Ballot. As a result, the branch is unable to to take industrial action to address the dispute, which centred around fair pay, closing the gender pay and reducing casualisation and excessive workloads.
Higher than average support for industrial action at Birmingham
46.9% of members voted in the ballot. Of these member, 76.3% voted yes to give Birmingham UCU a mandate to negotiate with management over pay and conditions. You can read the full results on the national UCU website (pdf).
Both turnout and support for industrial action at the University of Birmingham was higher than the national average. Nationally, 42% of members voted in the ballot, with 68.9% of participating members voting in favour of industrial action in order to bring management to the negotiating table.
Reflecting on the result, James Brackley, President of Birmingham UCU said: “While extremely disappointing, our results were among the highest in the country; more people voted in this ballot than in any previous ballot on our campus with 540 votes cast.
“The pay and equality ballot represents an amazing turnaround since the USS pensions dispute, but nonetheless leaves us short of being able to present our demands with the threat of industrial action on the table at this time. I want to take this opportunity thank every one of our members who got out and campaigned for this vote. ”
Mr Brackley added: “We have also developed a fantastic list of local demands to improve working conditions and to address pay inequality, casualisation, and workload issues at the University of Birmingham, in collaboration with the support staff unions over recent weeks and months. Many members new to the union campaigned hard to get the vote out and to raise awareness – between us we knocked on hundreds of doors (without exaggeration) thousands of times.”
Next steps for the dispute
While the ballot turnout rules out the possibility of industrial action (for now, at least), Birmingham UCU’s dispute with the University of Birmingham will continue. The branch will now work to progress their local demands – from better flexible working, to subsidised childcare, to proper employment rights for casual workers, through to full living wage accreditation and an end to the gender pay gap.
The branch will present their demands to management at a meeting in November. The demands are being presented jointly with the support staff unions at the University, including UNISON, who are currently balloting their members, after the management rejected their pay and working conditions demands, including for the University of Birmingham to become an accredited Living Wage employer.