“The Clock Is Ticking” - 70,000 Staff at 150 UK Universities to Strike for 18 Days

London, England

About 70,000 members of staff at 150 universities in the United Kingdom will begin a strike which is expected to be held for 18 days within the next two months, University and College Union (UCU), representing more than 120,000 academics and support staff across the UK, has announced.

In a statement published on its website a few days ago, UCU said “the clock is ticking” for university leaders to prevent disruption in education this year. The exact dates of the strike will be announced this week, Erudera.com reports.

“Today our union came together to back an unprecedented programme of escalating strike action. The clock is now ticking for the sector to produce a deal or be hit with widespread disruption,” UCU general secretary Jo Grady said.

Grady added that university staff will return to work only if vice-chancellors use the budget to address insecure employment as well as pay and pension cuts.

The decision was taken last week by the union’s higher education committee (HEC), which also agreed to re-ballot staff in all universities to renew the union’s mandate and allow the union to call the industrial action well into this year, including a marking and assessment boycott starting in April if the disagreements are not solved.

The union is demanding an increase in salaries in order to help through the cost-of-living crisis and not continue using the “insecure contracts.” This year, university leaders decided to impose a pay rise worth three percent.

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The Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), the employers’ association for higher education institutions, offered UCU a pay rise worth between four and five percent. Still, the union argued the rise was not enough.

“The package of cuts made last year will see the average member lose 35% from their guaranteed future retirement income. For those at the beginning of their careers the losses are in the hundreds of thousands of pounds,” UCU said.

University staff across the UK had organized strikes on the same issues before and warned that the action would worsen after the New Year if no changes were made.

In November this year, university staff announced a three-day strike, the largest strike action to hit the sector, affecting 2.5 million students.

Staff at 44 universities also walked out on February 14 this year for ten days to oppose cuts to pensions and bad pay and working conditions, claiming that university leaders have disappointed students and staff.

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