Thousands Of University Staff Strike Over Pensions, Pay And Worsening Work Conditions
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Thousands of university staff have gone on strike across the UK over pay, pensions and working conditions.
The three-day strike began on Wednesday, with organisers threatening further action if a deal cannot be reached, reports the Independent.
The University and College Union (UCU) said that more than a million students and 58 institutions would be affected by the action, with picket lines as well as other forms of industrial action
Picket lines are in place at campuses across the country, as well as other forms of industrial action - with students also standing in solidarity with staff, protesting outside the head office of Universities UK (UUK) and occupying a building at the University of Manchester.
The UCU said it had launched strike action after university bosses refused to withdraw pension cuts and to address falling pay, as well as ‘worsening’ work conditions.
The union says staff pay has dropped by around a fifth after 12 years of below inflation pay offers with general secretary, Jo Grady saying:
“It is deeply regrettable that staff have been forced into taking industrial action again, but sadly university bosses have shown little interest in negotiating in good faith and addressing the serious concerns of staff over falling pay, massive pension cuts, equality pay gaps and the rampant use of insecure contracts.”
She added that staff were asking ‘for the bare minimum in a sector awash with money’ and that it was a shame that ‘the only time vice chancellors seem to listen is when staff take action’.
UUK said: “Despite a great deal of constructive work between employers, the USS Trustee and UCU, a small minority of staff seem determined to strike in protest at economic conditions they do not like, and a regulatory regime that universities are powerless to change.”
Nicola Dandridge from the Office for Students (OfS) said the regulator was ‘extremely concerned’ over the potential impact of strikes on students.
“Students have endured an exceptionally difficult time,” she said. “It cannot be right that they face further disruption, and we would urge the employers and trade unions to work quickly so that any industrial dispute does not materially affect students.
“Universities are subject to consumer protection law, and they should consider how they will make up for any disruption caused by industrial action.
“This might include rescheduling any teaching which is missed, delivering course topics in a different way or considering whether partial refunds of tuition fees are appropriate.”
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