Imperial UCU Industion Action May through July 2023

The Imperial UCU Branch is taking local action in two ways over the coming months. The first is through a series of strike days which will be joined by the Imperial Unite the Union branch.

We will be striking on the following days:

  • Thursday 25th May
  • Friday 26th May
  • Wednesday 28th June
  • Thursday 29th June
  • Friday 30th June
  • Thursday 6th July
  • Friday 7th July

The second action is that since 17 May, our branch has commenced a Marking and Assessment Boycott. This is separate from the national MAB which is related only to the UCEA pay negotiations. Imperial has local pay negotiations and does not take part in the UCEA pay negotiations. For further guidance on the Imperial MAB see our local guidance page.

April update on disputes

Marking and Assessment Boycott (MAB)

Following the results of the national UCU consultation on the USS pensions proposal the proposed national Marking & Assessment Boycott (MAB) which was due to start on April 20th has been called OFF and Imperial UCU will NOT be commencing a MAB this week. Indeed, all forms of industrial action related to the USS pensions dispute are now on hold.

Note that, (a) the USS pensions dispute is still on, and the the union still has a mandate to take industrial action should discussions go awry, and, (b) many other institutions will still be commencing a MAB this week on the 4 Fights dispute (which Imperial aren’t part of).

Conditional on achieving a mandate on the local pay ballot we may commence a local MAB as part of the local pay dispute. Without going into further detail here the earliest this could possibly begin if it goes ahead is 4th May – of course we will communicate with members in good time about this. If you haven’t already done so please complete our survey to help us organise should we take this action.

More guidance on how to conduct a MAB will become available, but start with this guide from the UCU for a good overview of how it would work.

Update on the 2023-24 pay negotiations

Thank you to everyone who provided commentary on the College’s pay offer. The Joint Trade Unions pay negotiation team used members’ feedback to assist in assembling a detailed response which we sent to management yesterday. This should appear on the College pay award webpage within the next few days. Our next pay negotiation meeting is this Friday.

A summary of the pay negotations is available on our site.

All members’ meeting on Monday 24th April 1 – 2pm

We ask that all UCU members make the time to attend this meeting on Zoom next Monday. Later this week we will receive the results of our local ballot on the pay dispute; the precise content and focus of the meeting is conditional on the outcome so we’ll send a full agenda and Zoom link late on Friday. Either way however, the current pay negotiations will be the headline item. Please reply to this email or contact your local union rep if you have any items to include.

Items for the next College Health & Safety Committee meeting

The College main health & safety committee meets three times a year, and has representatives from all three trade unions attend. We are invited to submit agenda items in advance – we need to submit items from UCU in the next couple of weeks so we are asking members to respond with any possible items for consideration. Either reply to this message or contact your local union rep.

Comments on the national dispute

Several members have asked for some sort of branch comment, or further clarity on events regarding the national UCU disputes, especially regarding the fast moving updates from the week commencing 13 March. Vijay, our branch president has recorded the below video to try and give a balanced account for the benefit of Imperial UCU members. A PDF of the slides can be directly downloaded as well.

The video contains: a high level overview of the disputes – a comment on “the pause” in action from about March 2023 National Dispute Commentary three weeks ago – commentary on the USS pensions dispute and the relative merits of the current proposal/agreement with employers – reasons why voting in the reballot is essential – comments on the e-poll and the subsequent fallout from that – some information on what happens in the near future.

All staff meeting on the cost-of-living crisis at Imperial College

Zoom meeting details:
1-2pm, Monday 27 March
Meeting ID: 889 8228 7277

Passcode: 001328

Meeting summary:

The Joint Trades Unions (JTU) at Imperial College London invite all Imperial College staff to a Zoom meeting from 1 – 2pm on Monday 27th March to discuss the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on Imperial College staff and students. A survey of our members revealed some of the struggles staff across the College are facing and deepened our concerns. We have tried to impress the seriousness of the situation on senior management in meetings and in our 2023-24 pay claim:

Unfortunately, we do not believe management is taking these issues seriously enough. Despite submitting our claim over a month early, management continues to stall negotiations.

The JTU therefore believe it appropriate to call an all-staff meeting on the cost-of-living-crisis and the pay dispute as soon as possible. We invited President Hugh Brady to attend this meeting to hear his perspective and address staff concerns, however, although we offered him a range of dates, he has not replied. We will go ahead without him but he is welcome to join us should he wish to participate.

The purpose of the meeting will be to provide information on what has happened so far in relation to pay at Imperial College, followed by open discussion. In the second half of the meeting we will propose a motion aimed at impressing on management the importance of giving Imperial staff a fair pay deal in 2023-24, for debate and voting by all staff present.

Picketing on 9 and 10 February

We will follow up last week with effective action this Thursday 9th and Friday 10th February. It’s important that we have a visible – and audible – presence around the South Kensington campus. Please join picketing from 0800 onwards. Bring your own placards, whistles and help ensure management can hear us!

See the Strike Information for February and March 2023 for more details about picketing.

Updated strike Information for February and March 2023

UCU members at Imperial College London have two separate mandates to take strike action. The first dispute is UK-wide and is in opposition to cuts to the USS pension scheme. The second – that of pay – is local to Imperial, because College management withdrew from national collective bargaining on pay several years ago. UCU – alongside Unite – took action against management’s disgraceful imposition of real-terms pay cuts on 23 January. The following strikes dates have been called for action:

  • Week 1 – Wednesday 1 February – completed
  • Week 2 – Thursday 9 and Friday 10 February – completed 
  • Week 3 – Tuesday 14, Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 February – completed
  • Week 4 – Thursday 23 February (local action on pay only with Unite)
  • Week 5 – Tuesday 28 February (local action on pay only)
  • [No action week commencing Monday 6 March]
  • Week 6 – Wednesday 15 (local action pay only) Thursday 16 and Friday 17 March (national action on USS pensions only)
  • Week 7 – Monday 20, Tuesday 21 and Wednesday 22 March (both local and national action)

The following information, advice and guidance is specific to Imperial. For more general information, please refer to the UCU main pages, in particular the Members pages. If you have questions or comments please contact any of the elected UCU reps or email

Picketing details

In person picketing will take place on each strike morning starting at 8am. Picketing will mainly take place on the South Kensington campus with occasional picketing of St. Mary’s campus. The Exhibition Road vehicle and pedestrian entrance to Imperial College Road will be the main hub for us. If you’re not sure where to go when you turn up, please report to this location.

At 10.30 am each day we will hold a meeting with all in-person picketers.

Picket supervisors

The picket supervisors will be Roddy Slorach and Toby Andrew. Please contact one of them if you have any concerns on the day. Any person not involved with the strike action with a concern should be directed towards them.

How can you support us?

  • Join the strike days listed above! Meet 8am on Exhibition road.
  • Support the Action Short of Strike (ASOS) from 30 November
  • Email management (, to say you support the staff pay claim (template here)
  • Speak with colleagues and students about the disputes (student info slides available)
  • Update your out-of-office and email signature (template here)
  • Join a union. There are three at Imperial College: UCU, Unite, Unison

Strike fund

National UCU is making its Fighting Fund available to those members who participate in the strike according to these rules:

  • Daily rates will be £75 for members in UCU subscription bands F3-6 (those earning under £30,000) and £50 for members in bands F0-F2 (those earning £30,000 and over)
  •  All members participating in strike action will be able to claim for the second day of the strike action onwards
  • The officers will review this position and make further decisions if / when further strike action is called in the new year.


Start of Strike Action February/March 2020

After re-balloting in the new year, the Imperial UCU Branch surpassed the legally required minimum 50% turnout and voted in favour of a mandate for strike action on two issues:

  1. Local dispute over pay with College Management;
  2. National dispute over pensions with USS.

After the 8 days of strike action before Christmas which Imperial UCU did not take part in due to not meeting the requirement of 50% of ballots returned by eligible voters, Imperial UCU is taking part in the 14 days of strike action across February and March.

Summary of Pay Dispute

Our pay settlements have fallen behind the increase in the cost of living over the last 10 years. In 2019 College Management made a pay offer that did not even begin to address this long term decline in our salaries. This pay offer was rejected by all three campus unions. The college has now imposed a settlement on all staff without the agreement of the UCU. In addition to inflation, staff pension contributions have also risen (see below) from 6.5% of salary in 2011 to 9.6% today.

Summary of Pensions Dispute

Our USS pension scheme has been under attack for nearly 10 years. By 2018 our pension contributions had already risen to 8% of our salary. Since then our contributions have been raised twice more to the current 9.6%, and in 2021 they are set to rise again to 11%. All these rises have been based on a discredited valuation of the USS Scheme, meaning we’re paying more and more for a pension which is worth less and less. The 2018 USS strike showed that the only time the employers have been prepared to listen to us is when are prepared to go on strike.

We have been hit by a real-terms pay cut AND increased pensions contributions.

The full strike dates are:

  • week one: Thursday 20 and Friday 21 February
  • week two: Monday 24, Tuesday 25 and Wednesday 26 February
  • week three: Monday 2, Tuesday 3, Wednesday 4 and Thursday 5 March
  • week four: Monday 9, Tuesday 10, Wednesday 11, Thursday 12 and Friday 13 March.