Cambridge UCU have voted to take strike action against the University on the basis of longstanding issues of low pay and poor conditions, as well as massive cuts to their pensions. Following strike action on 1st-3rd December, UCU have annouced futher strike action to take place between 14th and 18th February, 21st and 22nd February, and 28th February and 1st March. This page will be updated with futher information about upcoming strikes soon.
This will affect many students across the University. This page will host information about the strikes and what the SU is doing, and will be updated throughout the strikes.
Events During the Strikes
Click on images to enlarge.
NB that all events on Friday 18th Feb have been moved online due to inclement weather.
Rename Seeley Library Campaign
Using Wikiversity for Organising and Archiving Movements
Tuesday 15th February, 15:00-16:00
Online, find out more here: https://en.m.wikiversity.org/wiki/Wikiversity_Node_Cambridge/Introduction
Cambridge Climate Justice
Climate Justice and Workers’ Justice: At Cambridge and Beyond
Thursday 17th February, 10:30-11:50
Centre of Governance and Human Rights
Online Disinformation and Digital Activism: Teach Out With Human Rights Practitioner Renata Avila
Wednesday 16th February, 17:00-18:00
Online, Eventbrite Link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/teach-out-renata-avila-ceo-open-knowledge-foundation-tickets-254486926247?aff=ebdssbonlinesearch
Cambridge UCU Justice 4 College Supervisors Campaign
Columbia Grad Strikes: How to Organise Grad Students and Win!
Monday 21st February, 15:00-16:00
Online, Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUqd-6hqDIjG9J3XY4NsOhkrZ8VBBbo-aZD
The Cambridge Military-Academic Complex
Friday 18th February, 10:30-11:50
Google Meet, link TBA
Black Cantabs Research Society
Blackness, Foreignness and Pandemic Scholarship
Friday 18th February, 14:00-15:00
Lessons from the 1934 Teamsters strike
Tuesday 22nd February, 11:00-12:00
Online, Zoom Link to Follow
Fighting for Gender Equality: Stamping Out Casualisation and Closing the Gender Pay Gap
Online, Zoom Link to Follow
Cambridge Defend Education
History of CDE
End Everyday Racism Project and Cambridge SU
End Everyday Racism: Complaints and Co-Listening Session
Tuesday 22nd February, 19:00
History of Cambridge UCU
The Decolonisation Network
Decolonisation Hub Archiving Workshop
Monday 28th February, 17:00-18:00
Ethical Affairs SU Campaign
Ethical Affairs Disorientation Teach Out
Tuesday 1st March, 10:30-11:50
Queers in Solidarity
Queering the History of the Labour Movement
Monday 21st February, 10:30-11:50
The Centre for the Study of Existential Risk
Global Risks, Protests and Injustice
Tuesday 22nd February,
10:00-11:00 (not confirmed)
Frequently Asked Questions
What is UCU?
UCU is the University and College Union, the trade union for academic and academic-related staff in Further and Higher Education. UCU organises nationally, but has local branches. The ballot to strike was voted on at these local branches, but the number of branches who voted to strike across the country will also be part of the decisions around if and when strikes do go ahead. Cambridge UCU voted in favour of striking. For more information, head over to the Cambridge UCU website.
Why are the strikes happening?
The vote to strike came after Universities UK’s proposed cuts to the Universities Superannuation Service (USS) pension scheme. This would mean a 35% cut to the guaranteed retirement benefits for the average USS member. UCU are calling on USS to carry out a new valuation, since the most recent valuation was impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. There is also a second ballot to strike over their 'Four Fights': fair pay, job security, manageable workloads, and equality.
What do strikes mean for students?
Some, but not all, University teaching hours (such as lectures, labs and centrally-organised teaching) will not go ahead on the specified strike days. Not all staff will go on strike, and we will not know for sure until strikes start which teaching will be disrupted. College-based teaching is not affected, so supervisions will still go ahead. Some University sites may have picket lines outside some or all entrances.
UCU includes non-teaching academic staff, so there may be disruption to faculty libraries and the UL, UIS technical support, and other University services. Many of the staff involved will also be postgraduate students, who work for the University as supervisors. This work is highly casualised, and postgraduate student workers are some of the most affected by the issues UCU’s Four Fights aim to address.
On strike days there will be picket lines outside some University buildings. A picket line is when striking staff gather at entrances to workplaces to encourage other workers to join the strike, and to increase the visibility of strike action. Students will still be able to access the Student Services Centre at the New Museums Site.
What about other non-teaching related services (e.g. UCS and DRC)?
The Student Services Centre on the New Museums Site, which hosts the University Counselling Service and Disability Resource Centre, will be picketed on some entrances. We are not encouraging students to avoid accessing the Student Services Centre during strikes. There will be a non-picketed entrance to the site (on Benet Street) so that those who do not wish to cross a physical picket line when accessing their support services are able to do so. Staff who will be striking at this site are aware that support services are located here, and should be understanding of your decision to attend any appointments. If you do not want to attend your appointments during the strikes, we recommend that you rearrange with your counsellor or advisor in advance for them to take place on a non-strike day.
How is the SU planning to support you?
- Communicating clear information about the strikes to students to ensure you always know what’s happening and what it means for you.
- Lobbying the university for exam and assessment mitigations to adjust for content which is not taught because of strikes.
- Working with student groups and UCU over the coming weeks to support all students’ education throughout strike action, including those who miss contact hours due to strikes or choose not to attend in solidarity.
- Organising breakfast runs, where food and hot drinks are delivered to striking staff (many of whom are postgraduate students, and therefore also Cambridge SU members)
- Pushing the University and their national representatives to come to the negotiating table and bring these strikes to an end.
- Staying in constant contact with UCU and students to ensure that there is an open and welcoming culture on picket lines and throughout strikes.
- Supporting you with individual issues and concerns relating to your education during the strikes via the Student Advice Service
How can you show solidarity with striking staff?
Students have an amazing power to make a direct impact on strike action. The most successful strikes (and therefore the shortest strikes) are those which receive strong support. You can support the strikes in many different ways:
- Sending an email or speaking to staff showing your support. Nothing means more to many staff considering striking than knowing that students are behind them.
- Choosing not to cross picket lines on strike days, where you feel able to do so, is a powerful way to show your support for the strike. The SU will be organising alternative ways to access your education during strike action. (see above).
- Volunteering to help out with our breakfast runs to the picket lines. Even if you aren’t doing a breakfast run, you can still show up to teach-outs, picket lines, and rallies in solidarity.
Can I get involved in the strike as an international student?
Yes! All students have every right to join in the picket lines and other actions around the strikes, and that includes international students.
Cambridge doesn’t monitor your engagement with your course for visa purposes via lecture attendance, so it shouldn’t cause any problems for your Student visa if you choose to miss University teaching in solidarity with the strikes. It’s important that you do keep up engagement with supervisions and other college-organised teaching, as well as tutor meetings and other pastoral support.
You should be careful about getting involved in any direct action which could be illegal or involve a police presence, as there is a risk that this could have implications for your visa. You can always get in touch with the Student Advice Service for support.
Students can choose to support the strikes in different ways and the SU is committed to being there for all students, regardless of what they are able to do. Cambridge SU is your union and will support you in whatever decision you make.
If you have any concerns about the impact of the strikes on your studies or any other issues relating to your time at Cambridge University, the Student Advice Service are available for all students to access. The Service offers free, independent, impartial and confidential guidance and support. To ask a question or arrange an appointment to speak to an Advisor, please visit their contact page.