Staff At 58 Universities Have Voted For Fresh Strikes
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Staff at 58 universities have voted in favour of renewed strike action over pensions, pay and working conditions, raises the prospect of further disruption for students.
In two ballots carried out by the University and College Union (UCU) over 70% of participating members backed strike action, while 85% backed ‘action short of a strike’ which could include measures such as a marking boycott.
The UCU has demanded a £2,500 pay increase for its members, an end to ‘pay injustice’ and zero-hours contracts, and action to tackle ‘unmanageable workloads’ reports the BBC.
The next development will come next Friday, when the UCU’s decision making body - the higher education committee - will meet to determine what action - if any - should be taken.
Speaking to the BBC, Jeevun Sandher a 31-year-old economics PhD student who represents UCU at King's College London, says staff don't want to strike, but working in academia has become ‘miserable’.
“We all love teaching, and the most enriching part of being an academic is sharing your ideas with students,” he said. “But the truth is that actually the situation in academia is becoming intolerable.”
As well as the pay and pensions issues, Mr Sandher says a ‘massive increase in workload’ and job insecurity are also major problems in the industry problems, with many academics on short-term contracts or even zero-hour contracts.
Mr Sandher continued: “I would ask students to recognise and understand the situation we're in. To disrupt our students' learning is not something we want to do. This is very much a last resort, but this is where we've been driven to.”
Commenting on the ballot results, UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “It is scandalous that university vice-chancellors on overinflated salaries seem to think doing nothing on pay, casualisation and inequality is acceptable in a sector awash with money.
"We truly hope that disruption can be avoided, that is what staff and students alike all want. But this is entirely in the gift of employers who simply need to end their attacks on pensions, pay and working conditions and finally demonstrate they value their staff."
If action were to take place before the end of this term, it would be the fourth year in a row that students have seen staff strike.
Last year, staff at 74 universities held a 14-day strike over pensions, pay, and conditions, and there was also action in 2019 and 2018.
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