19 - 21 January

This referendum (which will take the form of a 'preferendum' due to there being multiple voting options) relates to the motion below entitled ‘Preferendum on the current UCU Industrial Action’. This contemporary resolution was proposed by a majority of the Officer Group under Article 7 of the Students’ Union’s Constitution.

The question we will be asking is as follows:

What stance should RHSU adopt towards the current UCU industrial action?

Please login to vote in the election.

What are the voting options?

a. To support the UCU’s current industrial action and its stance in its entirety, up to and including any further strike action.

b. To support the UCU’s current stance regarding ‘action short of strike’, but reject the decision for wholescale strikes.

c. To reject UCU’s current industrial action and its stance in its entirety.

Why are there more than two options to choose between?

This is a really complex issue - it would be really difficult for you, as a student body, to make a simple yes or no decision. Instead, there are the above three options that cover the various positions, and you will be able to rank them in terms of preference.

Why was the referendum called?

On Wednesday 8 December, it was announced that the Officer Group called for a referendum on this matter. This is within the rights and powers of the Officer Group under Byelaw B of the Constitution that stipulates that a majority of the Officer Group can call for a referendum.

The reasons for this decision are simple; this is an issue that students hold various different beliefs on. Ultimately, the stance of the Students’ Union is determined by you, the students. On issues that are of this nature, which will undoubtedly impact all students, it is only fair and reasonable for the decision to lie with you, the membership.

Background Reading

UCU Announce Further Strikes

Thu 10 Mar 2022

On 4 March, the University and College Union announced another five days of strike action from Monday 21 March to Friday 25 March. VP Education Maia Jarvis gives you an update on the situation.

Staff Struggles are Student Struggles

Thu 17 Feb 2022

Royal Holloway students in support of the ongoing UCU strike action voice their concerns in this blog.

Upcoming UCU Strike Action

Wed 09 Feb 2022

The University and College Union (UCU) has announced ten days of strike action on 14-22 February and 28 February – 2 March (inclusive). VP Education Maia Jarvis gives you an update on the situation and how you may be affected.

UCU Referendum Result

Fri 21 Jan 2022

You've voted for the Students' Union to support the UCU’s current industrial action and its stance in its entirety, up to and including any further strike action. Find out what that means and what actions we'll be taking as a result.

UCU Referendum Called

Fri 10 Dec 2021

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.


Who is striking?

Across the UK, 58 universities experienced three days of strike action between 1 December to 3 December 2021. This is due to the University and College Union (UCU) successfully balloting for industrial action, the reasons are outlined below. Each Higher Education institution was balloted separately, with a threshold of 50% turnout, which Royal Holloway UCU achieved.

There are approximately 400 members of staff at Royal Holloway who are members of the UCU, the vast majority of whom are academic members of staff. Equally, there are other members of staff who are not members of the UCU and are therefore not required to strike, although some may do so in solidarity.

In addition to this, action short of a strike also began on Wednesday 1 December and will last for six months. What this generally means is that UCU members will be working to contracts i.e. if their contract states 35 working hours a week, this is what they will strictly abide by without any additional work beyond this (it can be typical for academics to work additional hours outside of their contracted hours). There is also the potential for further strike action in 2022.

Why are they striking?

The UCU balloted for two separate issues: the pensions dispute; and pay and working conditions (the four fights). In 2018, the UCU successfully balloted for industrial action on the pensions dispute. However, this was regarding the benefits of the USS pension scheme and was followed by strike action in 2019 related to the contributions of the USS pension scheme. The 2021 industrial action is focused on a valuation of the pension scheme by the USS trustees that UCU disagree with and they are focused on avoiding future changes to benefits and/or increases in member contributions while also asking for a new approach to the valuation of the pension scheme assets.

Regarding the four fights, UCU are looking to tackle four issues around pay; staff workloads; casualisation of contracts; and the gender, ethnicity and disability pay gaps.

Representing your academic interests

As a Students’ Union, it is our responsibility to act in the interests of our membership, you – the students. In addition to receiving your guidance on whether we as a Students’ Union should or shouldn’t support the strike action, we are also working to mitigate any negative effects to your experience.

The officer team are regularly meeting with senior management from the University in order to engage in discussions as to how the negative impact on students is not detrimental to your academic achievement.

Below you can check out the proposed contemporary resolution (coming week commencing 13 December) as well as read more useful information on the proposed industrial action. We've also included an article that explains the Alternative Vote (AV) system that will be in place, ensuring we adopt the most representative stance.

Contemporary Resolution
Alternative vote information