THE University of Worcester (UoW) will not be affected by eight days of nationwide strikes later this month despite governors previously being warned of the possibility of staff being involved.

Sixty UK universities will be hit by strike action in relation to two separate legal disputes about pensions, and pay and working conditions, the University and College Union announced last week.

In minutes for a UoW Board of Governors meeting in July, it said the director of HR gave an update “on the national pay negotiations and noted the possibility of strike action in November 2019”.

79 per cent of UCU members who voted on whether to strike in a ballot over changes to pensions, while the ballot on pay saw 74 per cent in support.

The union said universities had to respond positively and quickly if they wanted to avoid disruption this year.

The disputes centre on changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) and universities’ failure to make improvements on pay, equality, casualisation and workloads.

As well as the strike days union members will also begin ‘action short of a strike’.

This involves things like working strictly to contract, not covering for absent colleagues and refusing to reschedule lectures lost to strike action.

A UCU spokesman has confirmed UoW will not be involved in the strikes because it isn’t in the USS scheme and the local union branch didn’t get over the 50 per cent turnout threshold in the pay vote.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: "The first wave of strikes will hit universities later this month unless the employers start talking to us seriously about how they are going to deal with rising pension costs and declining pay and conditions.

"Any general election candidate would be over the moon with a result along the lines of what we achieved last week.

"Universities can be in no doubt about the strength of feeling on these issues and we will be consulting branches whose desire to strike was frustrated by anti-union laws about re-balloting."

Last year, university campuses were brought to a standstill by what the union describes as "unprecedented levels" of strike action. UCU said it was frustrated that members had to be balloted again, but that universities' refusal to deal with their concerns had left them with no choice.

Last month, shadow education secretary Angela Rayner called on both sides to get round the table for urgent talks. 

A university spokesman said: “The University of Worcester works hard to be a good employer.

"We are very aware of the difficult financial situation facing many universities as a result of a combination of the tuition fee freeze and ongoing reductions in Government grants.

"At the beginning of this decade 67p out of every £ of University of Worcester income came in grants – today it is just 4p in the £.

“At Worcester, we have a reputation for sound management as well as a long history of honestly sharing the financial challenges with staff colleagues and student representatives.

“Of the staff who are UCU members at the University, significantly fewer than 50 per cent voted in the recent UCU ballot, and of those who did vote, a majority voted against strike action.

"Therefore, there is no prospect of industrial action at this time. Naturally, the University remains committed to continuing to be a good employer.

“The great majority of academic staff at Worcester are members of the Government-owned and controlled Teachers’ Pension Scheme.

"This scheme increased employers’ contributions by 44 per cent from this September. This will cost the University an extra £1.3 million this year alone.

"This is a very serious ‘stealth tax’ which will do nothing to help students or staff and simply takes money away from the University, students, staff and the local economy.”