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Following the December and January strike actions, the University and College Union (UCU) has called for another national strike action from Monday the 28th March to Friday the 1st of April. UCU members will strike over pensions cuts that will come into effect this year as well as working conditions. It is estimated that over a million students will be impacted by the strike.

Following the UCU announcement, the University of Bath Students’ Union called a referendum on whether or not the SU should support the UCU industrial action. Voting opened at 12:00PM on the 18th of March and closed today at 12:00PM.

The question students were asked was: Should The SU adopt the following Standpoint: ‘Insufficient working conditions negatively affect the quality of teaching at the University, and the SU supports the UCU in industrial action against USS cuts, low pay, and insecure contracts’?

In total, 876 ballots were casted. The results were as follow:

  • Yes: 624 (71.2%)
  • No: 239 (27.3%)
  • Abstain: 13 (1.5%)

Despite a majority of “Yes” votes, the results did not count as the quorum (minimum number of votes needed to make this vote valid) was not met. The set quorum for SU referendum was 5% of all eligible voters, which in this case would have been 1,048 votes. The referendum was therefore 172 votes away from being official.

We reached out to UCU Bath President, Dr. David Moon, who told Bath Time:

It is disappointing that the SU referendum has not reached the bar required to secure support for UCU’s industrial action. The quickest way to end a strike is to support it, to build its strength to increase the pressure and thus force employers towards the compromises needed to call off action. A clear message that the University of Bath can and must ‘do more’ would have been welcome here. Nevertheless, UCU members will continue to fight not only to protect our pensions, but for a higher education sector that puts education before market dictates, support the NUS campaign against a fees-based system, and seek to reverse the regressive changes to the student loan repayments, etc. Our working conditions are students’ learning conditions, so our struggle is students’ struggle also. And the struggle carries on.

Dr. David S. Moon

The UCU Bath branch was pleased with the majority of “yes” votes, despite the referendum being voided, and thanked those who voted in favour of supporting the strike.

Bath Vote Yes, a student-led campaign, released the following statement:

Whilst we are obviously sad that the referendum didn’t meet the threshold we are incredibly proud of our campaign and what we achieved in a short amount of time. Of the votes cast we got over 70% which is incredible compared to previous referenda on the issue of strikes. The turnout poses some serious questions about democratic culture at the University and steps must be made to improve it to ensure future votes can be carried forward. Next week please stand in solidarity with lecturers and follow along with the UCU and NUS campaigns, working conditions are our learning conditions and they must be improved

Callum Clafferty, Vote Yes Lead Agent

Bath Time has reached out to the SU for comment but have yet to hear back.

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