UCU Referendum Called

Following receipt of a petition from over 500 student members, and in accordance with Byelaw B of the Union’s constitution, the elected sabbatical officer team are calling a referendum on what stance RHSU should take regarding the ongoing University and College Union (UCU) industrial action.

Following receipt of a petition from over 500 student members, and in accordance with Byelaw B of the Union’s constitution, the elected sabbatical officer team are calling a referendum on what stance RHSU should take regarding the ongoing University and College Union (UCU) industrial action.

We believe that with a topic as complex and emotive as this dispute, it’s important to recognise the nuance of the debate and the preference from the student body to potentially back differing levels of industrial action.

To do this, we will be holding a preferendum, where you are presented with a range of potential options instead of a simple yes or no vote on supporting the strikes. The result will form a contemporary resolution, a short-term piece of policy that has a defined timescale, which will ensure any result is in place until the end of the current action – May 2022.

The question we are asking the student body is:

“What stance should Royal Holloway Students’ Union adopt towards the current UCU industrial action?”

The options being put forward are:

  1. To support UCU’s current industrial action and its stance in its entirety, up to and including any further strike action.
  2. To support UCU’s current stance regarding ‘action short of a strike’, but reject the decision for wholesale strikes.
  3. To reject UCU’s current industrial action and its stance in its entirety.

When is it taking place?

In line with Byelaw B, we must give all members at least 14 days’ notice before the submission of any votes. Given today is the last day of this academic term, we have opted to hold the referendum at the start of the new term to maximise student engagement on this important issue.

Voting will open at 10:00 on Wednesday 19 January and close at 16:00 on Friday 21 January with results announced at 17:00 via our website.

Why is this happening?

There are multiple reasons that UCU balloted for two separate issues: a pensions dispute – based around a valuation of their pension scheme by the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) trustees that UCU disagrees with. They are also focused on avoiding future changes to benefits and/or increases in member contributions while in addition asking for a new approach to the valuation of the pension scheme assets.

The second issue is known as ‘the four fights’ where UCU are looking to tackle four issues around pay; staff workloads; casualisation of contracts; and the gender, ethnicity and disability pay gaps.

You can read more about the background to the strikes, the rules around the referendum and more on our dedicated referendum webpage.

If you have any questions or want to know more about how you can get involved with campaigning on this referendum, then please contact voice@su.rhul.ac.uk and we’ll be able to help you get going.

Why contemporary resolution and not policy motion?

Over the past decade, UCU have been involved with strike action across a wide range of issues affecting their members. A unilateral policy motion would put the Students’ Union in a position where it would support action on an ongoing basis for three years (the length of time a policy motion is live before it comes up for renewal).

By using a contemporary resolution, we can ensure any policy relates to this specific issue for the time it is live e.g. the current action mandate lasts until May 2022. This can be renewed at the end of the time period if further action is taken or the resolution comes to an end and further consultation can be sought e.g. in the event of a marking boycott or strikes that impact on assessments which may change the opinion of the student body.