Durham UCU votes against strike action over in-person teaching

By Poppy Askham

Durham’s branch of the University and College Union (UCU) has voted not to take strike action in response to a consultative ballot.

The ballot follows a motion demanding that a compulsory return to face-to-face teaching is not implemented until deemed safe by scientific advisory bodies such as SAGE and Independent SAGE.

Ballot results reveal that 59% of members would not be prepared to back strike action in relation to the demands set out in the union’s October motion.

Union members expressed a preference for action short of a strike (ASOS) with 55% indicating that they would be willing to take this form of action over the issue of in-person teaching.

The UCU outlines five forms of ASOS: working strictly to contract; not covering for absent colleagues; not rescheduling teaching hours cancelled due to strike action; not undertaking voluntary work for one’s university; and boycotting marking and assessment.

The ballot closed on Friday 8th January, the day after Durham University announced that the vast majority of courses would be delivered wholly online for the Epiphany term. This change in University policy means that action short of a strike would most likely come into effect in response to teaching arrangements for the Easter term.

Following the ballot results, Durham UCU branch committee met and outlined its immediate priorities: supporting members involved in on-campus work and assisting members who are expected to home-school children whilst carrying out their professional duties.

Image: Tim Packer

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