The Oxford University and College Union (UCU) has failed to meet the necessary turnout requirements to vote for strike action, despite over 70% of balloted members pledging their support for a move to action last Friday.
In a vote held on Friday 19th October, one motion calling for strike action and another calling for a marking and assessment boycott were voted for by 73.2% and 85.8% of UCU-affiliated Oxford staff members, respectively.
However, these motions did not pass because the Union failed to ballot over 50% of members as required by current UK trade union laws. This means that no strike action will be able to take place, preventing a repeat of last year’s University-wide lecturer strike.
UCU Oxford told Cherwell: “The wishes of Oxford UCU’s members have been frustrated by restrictive trade union laws… which introduced the 50% turnout requirement for industrial action with the clear aim of hampering collective action by trade unionists.”
They added: “We are discussing as a branch whether we would like to re-ballot our members to try to reach the 50% threshold.
“This will be a branch decision taken in the context of an emerging national consensus among UCU branches of the best way forward.
“In the meantime we will continue to work with and for our members on the issues raised in this ballot: declining pay, the gender pay gap, precarious contracts and excessive workload.”
With 85% of members at FE Colleges and 69% at universities voting in favour of strike action, the national UCU has also voiced concerns that “restrictive trade union laws mean that, with the exception of Northern Ireland, only those institutions where a 50% turnout is reached can act on the result.”
Head of Policy and Campaigns for UCU Matt Waddup said: “These national ballot results show clear support amongst members for action over pay.
“However, pernicious restrictions on turnout which single out trade union for special treatment mean this can only be taken forward in some institutions”.
UCU has said that it will be holding a meeting of its members in the next few days to decide whether or not to take further action.
A spokesperson for the University told Cherwell: “Higher education pay is negotiated at a national level between the Universities and Colleges Employers Association and the University and College Union.”
Balloting for a strike came after UCU rejected the Universities and College Employers Association’s final offer of a 2% pay rise for staff last May. Disputes continue between UCU and UCEA over pay.