Only around 6% of staff turned out for this year’s University and College Union strikes, new figures show. According to records obtained by Impact under the Freedom of Information Act, out of 3844 staff at the University of Nottingham who were eligible to strike last March, only 202 took part on the 22nd and 217 went on strike on the 24th.
Lecturers were striking over changes to the way in which pensions would be managed. Local UCU spokesman Andreas Bieler had already admitted that fewer staff members took part than expected, last month citing the “dangerous illusion” that jobs at the university were relatively safe. This was in response to an email leaked to Impact from Nottingham UCU secretary Mike Byrne stating that the strikes “may not have been noticed”.
The level to which Nottingham staff were behind the strike was already in question by this point, however, when UCU members seemed divided in a vote on whether or not to walk out. Out of 327 valid ballots, 195 voted in favour of strike action with 132 voting against. In a later interview with Times Higher Education, Byrne stated that there was “a very good level of support from members who attended picket lines”.
If UCU organisers were worried that the absence of striking staff hadn’t been noticed, the reluctance of nearly 95% of university staff to take part in industrial action could prove an even greater concern.