The Warwick branch of the University and College Union (UCU) has voted to ballot on strike action if the University of Warwick does not adopt full online teaching.
If the ballot is successful, it would be the fourth period of strike action by Warwick UCU in three years. The mandate covered for the ballot would run from January to June 2021, allowing for strike action in Term 2 and Term 3.
Warwick UCU initially called for the University to adopt online teaching on 19 August, saying that universities would be “the care homes of the second wave”.
211 Warwick UCU members attended an emergency meeting held on 2 October, and a subsequent vote over the weekend passed with an “overwhelming majority” with 157 votes for the motion, 13 against and 10 abstentions.
The UCU stated on Twitter: “If the University refuses to immediately make online teaching the default option where possible for all teaching, except in limited circumstances of practice based modules, and to apply this to all staff including casualised staff, then the Committee now has a mandate to ballot members of our branch for industrial action.”
The UCU issued a formal “Notice of Failure to Agree” to the University on 6 October, giving the University one week to respond to the demands.
The University of Warwick Students’ Union (SU) has also issued a demand that all teaching be moved online where possible.
We would much rather be teaching students, and doing so face to face – but in the context of a global pandemic and with the lack of a functioning Track and Trace system, it is not safe to do so
– Hannah Jones
The SU did not consult students before launching the campaign, leading to an open letter in support of in person teaching signed by hundreds of Warwick students.
Hannah Jones, Co-Chair of Warwick UCU, said to The Boar: “We do not wish to take strike action or action short of a strike – that is a last resort.
“We would much rather be teaching students, and doing so face to face – but in the context of a global pandemic and with the lack of a functioning Track and Trace system, it is not safe to do so.
“Members have voted to move forward in this way because the University has otherwise refused to recognise and address our concerns about the inadequacy of the current risk mitigation plans, and the effects this is having on the wellbeing of the entire University community.”