On Tuesday 5 November, the Kent branch of the University and College Union (UCU) announced its intention to take part in strike action over an eight-day period, from 25 November until 4 December, and action short of a strike (ASOS) to last beyond that date.
The planned action comes off the back of a national UCU ballot asking members to indicate whether they would be prepared to strike or take action short of strike (ASOS) on issues around pay and working conditions. Kent is one of 55 institutions where UCU secured a mandate for industrial action on the issue of pay and conditions.
The University’s Executive Group (EG) has recognised the strength of feeling expressed and the frustration that many staff feel on key issues around pay and conditions. EG is also aware that the potential for industrial action is unsettling for many of our staff and students.
This outcome is within a context of challenging circumstances at Kent and the sector as a whole. The higher education sector is facing unprecedented financial, regulatory and political challenges and the competitive recruitment environment has had a particular and unhelpful impact on Kent’s finances.
EG will continue to reflect on what all this means for Kent, and the options open to them. EG has also indicated to UCU that they are positive about an ongoing dialogue and hope that, through discussion with them and other stakeholders, a way forward may be found.
In the event that strike action goes ahead, EG will do all it can to minimise disruption and more information will be published to help staff navigate this difficult time and mitigate against the impact on students, whose experience remains the utmost priority.