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At an In Conversation event on 21 November, co-hosted with Lancaster University Students’ Union, members of Lancaster UCU answered questions from students.
Note: You can access the University’s information portal on the strikes here.
How big is the strike?
- Over 60 universities are going on strike
- UCU has 110,000+ members across the UK
- 79% of voting members support the strike
Why are they going on strike?
- Pensions – this was the reason for the 2018 strike, which put a halt to pensions changes that were being made without consultation. Management pledged to implement the advice from the Joint Expert Panel, but then ignored that advice when it was made.
- Unsustainable workloads – the average university worker performs two days of unpaid work per week. As Dr Jacob Phelps explained during the meeting, “I’m a real good juggler but I only have two hands and ten fingers.”
- Pay cut – there has been a real-terms 20% pay cut since 2009 for university staff.
- Inequalities – there is a 27.7% gender pay gap at Lancaster, one of the highest in the country. Similar discrepancies exist for disabled and BME staff.
Impacts on students
- There will be differing impacts on different students, as many policies are decided at a departmental level, not on a university-wide level.
- Students should not be assessed on missed content.
- Lectures may be cancelled, with or without notice.
- Grades will be checked against previous years and corrected.
The picket line
- There will be a daily picket line from 7.30am to 10am at the Sports Centre, Cycle Path, and Alexandra Park.
- University says you cannot join the picket line, which is correct. However, you can visit the picket line.
- Bring your friends, a musical group, sports team, etc.
What else can you do?
- Lancaster UCU will be hosting teach-outs at the Gregson Centre at 33 Moorgate, LA1 3PY every day of the strike from 1.30pm to 3pm.
- The theme for all of the teach-out sessions is “Building a Community of Resistance”.
- You can complain to the Interim Vice-Chancellor, Professor Steve Bradley, directly at email@example.com.
- The Students’ Union will assist students who want to ask for a fees refund. Advice can be provided by the SU at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What does the SU say?
- Bee Morgan, VP Education, spoke on behalf of the Students’ Union at the meeting.
- She said that staff numbers are not increasing in line with student numbers and that postgrads who teach need to be given more time by the Uni to properly support their students.
- The Executive Committee voted on Tuesday that the University should put all unpaid staff wages into a student hardship fund.
SCAN will continue to provide updates on the strike action planned by Lancaster UCU.
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