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UCU suspends strike action for 2 weeks following breakthrough in talks

The University and College Union (UCU) has announced that strike action will be paused for two weeks following ‘breakthroughs’ in its negotiations with the Universities and Colleges Employers’ Association (UCEA).

The breakthroughs are said to encompass disputes over pay and pensions. The UCU says it will use the two week pause on strikes to hold “intensive negotiations” and hopefully deliver a final agreement. The decision to suspend the strikes in favour of a “period of calm” is supposed to enable “the most positive environment possible” for the negotiations.

This comes as the UCEA is apparently recommending to its own members that they give it a mandate to end the use of involuntary zero hour contracts. The UCU heralded this as potential progress on “one of the worst forms of insecurity” and a “down payment on real change”.

The UCU acknowledged that members might be wondering if they can trust these developments, but set out to reassure members that “[n]obody at UCU will be fooled” and “[t]his progress is for real and the threat to our employers remains”. The announcement stressed that the aim of the strike action had always been to reach a resolution, and that the UCU did not want members on the picket lines “for a minute longer” than needed.

The UCU stressed that they would resume strike action and be prepared to escalate further if the UCEA did not follow through in the negotiations. On Wednesday, members will be asked to ballot on whether to give the UCU a mandate for another six months in case further action is needed.

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