UK: Tens of Thousands of University Employees to Strike Again Over Pay & Conditions Starting Today

United Kingdom Europe Higher Education News by Erudera News Mar 20, 2023

UCU members on strike

Some 70,000 staff at 150 British universities will strike today in their ongoing dispute over pay, pensions, and working conditions.

Staff set to walk out for three days this week, on March 20, 21, and 22, are members of the University and College Union (UCU, a British trade union representing over 120,000 academics, lecturers, and other support staff in the UK higher education sector, Erudera.com reports.

The action comes after the union’s higher education committee did not agree to vote on the latest proposals of employers last week but to continue the walkout.

University employers made their offers on pay, pensions, and employment conditions on March 15 last week, which among other things, paved the way for the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension to be reinstated in April of 2024 to reduce workloads, close the gender pay gap, and end the zero-hours contracts.

“Today, on our tenth day of strike action and after weeks of intensive negotiations, university employers have finally agreed to put forward a set of proposals on pay, conditions and pensions. This breakthrough is down to the strength, determination and sacrifice of university workers who have stood on picket lines,” UCU general secretary Jo Grady said last week when staff held strikes on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

Grady highlighted that 70,000 staff will continue their strike action until they can “have their say.”

In January of this year, UCU announced that more than 70,000 workers at 150 universities in the UK will be striking for 18 days between February and March to demand a fair deal, until the university employers make them a serious offer and bring the dispute to an end.

At the beginning of February, university employers made an offer worth five percent for the majority of UCU members, which was rejected by 80 percent of the latter.

“It is no surprise that university staff have overwhelmingly rejected a low-ball 5% offer from employers, this is a huge real-terms pay cut that would leave our members worse off,” Grady said in a statement on February 8.

UCU temporarily suspended the industrial action after making “significant progress” in negotiations with employers across multiple issues.

University and College Union (UCU) members at 83 universities have gone on strike over pay and working conditions, five on pension cuts, and 62 over all these issues. According to UCU, more than 90,000 university staff are in insecure employment, and staff does at least two unpaid days per week.

>> Cambridge Joins Rank of UK Universities Recognizing Union for Staff Rights

Image source: UCU Portsmouth Twitter

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