Over 83% of staff voted YES to taking strike action and action short of a strike, which is a sign of the strength of feeling in the branch about this issue.
However, Queen Mary UCU’s turnout was 46.4%. As you will know, UK anti-trade union law requires above a 50% turnout for strike action to proceed, so at this stage the branch is unable to join any national industrial action campaign. This, however, does not mean the end of our struggle.
Only 33 more votes would be needed to put the branch over 50%, and only 19 fewer staff voted in this ballot than in the equivalent ballot in 2019. This is despite the fact that the balloting period was only 2 weeks long (compared to 8 weeks in 2019), and took place amidst the ongoing disruption of the pandemic. We were very close to getting over the threshold and there is nothing stopping us from reaching those extra 33 people if we reballot.
37 out of a total of 68 USS branches across the country have reached the required threshold. A further 22 were, like Queen Mary, very close. If these branches reballot, it is likely that a large number will be able to take part in significant strike action. Jo Grady, the General Secretary of UCU, has recommended that reballots are held before the extended strike action is called, so that as many branches could participate in the strike as possible.
We will discuss these matters in the upcoming branch meeting held on Monday 8th November at 1pm. In the meeting we will decide four things:
- If we should reballot at QMUL
- What could be done to improve turnout in future
- What should happen at a national level while any reballoting takes place.
- Who to send to the Branch Delegates’ Meeting as a representative from QMUCU. The Branch Delegates’ Meeting will happen on the 12th November in the morning before the Higher Education Committee (HEC), which will decide how UCU will proceed with industrial action. Each branch can send one delegate to the USS Pensions dispute and another to the Four Fights dispute meeting.
The Zoom link to the branch meeting taking place on Monday 8th November at 1pm were was sent to your email today.
In sum, the fight is not over. We can reballot. We can and will win.