As part of the UCU Strikes, over 50,000 staff are expected to participate in campus walkouts as part of the ‘fight for the future of higher education’ this February.
The University and College Union (UCU) has labelled these strikes a “fight for the future of higher education” with staff at “breaking point” after a decade of cuts to pensions, falling pay and worsening working conditions.
Like the UCU Strikes in December last year, these staff walkouts are in response to pensions, unmanageable workloads, pay inequality, the use of exploitative and insecure contracts, pay, and working conditions.
The February strikes are intended to run across 3 weeks beginning on Monday 14th February. A full list of dates can be found below:
Week 1: Monday 14th – Friday 18th February (USS pension dispute only)
Week 2: Monday 21st – Friday 22nd February (both the pension and the pay & working conditions dispute)
Week 3: Monday 28th February – Wednesday 2nd March (pay & working conditions dispute only)
Further industrial action is still on the cards. Rolling regional and UK-wide action is planned in response to pay & working conditions and preparations are being made for a UK-wide marking and assessment boycott.
The final day of strike action in week 3 has been organized to coincide with the National Union of Students (NUS) student strike on Wednesday 2nd March.
The NUS student strike shares the UCU values, calling for higher and further education to be free at the point of use for students, and for staff to get better working conditions, pay, and pensions.
Yesterday, UCU shared proposals that could avert the pension strike, following the scheme’s assets jump up to more than £93bn. UCU will be meeting with employer representatives, Universities UK, on the 11th February.
To resolve the pension dispute, UCU is demanding employers revoke the cuts to staff pensions and formally accept UCU’s counter proposals.
To resolve the pay & working conditions dispute, UCU is demanding a £2.5k pay rise for all staff as well as action to tackle unmanageable workloads, pay inequality, and the use of casual contracts.
UCU general secretary Jo Grady commented:
“[It is a] damning indictment of the way our universities are managed that staff are being left with no option but to walk out again.
“For a sector that is worth tens of billions of pounds and enjoys record levels of student growth, it is beyond disgraceful that in return staff get vicious pension cuts, falling pay, and are pushed to breaking point under deteriorating working conditions.
“Time is quickly running out for vice chancellors to avert strike action, but it can be done.
“Staff need a proper pay rise, action to tackle insecure contracts, unsafe workloads and pay inequality, and for devastating pension cuts to be revoked. Any disruption that occurs will be the clearest indication yet that university bosses don’t value their staff.
“This wave of strike action is a fight for the future of higher education and staff are proud to stand alongside students in the fight for an education system that treats students and staff with respect.”
NUS National President, Larissa Kennedy, has yet again noted:
Last December, following the referendum, Lancaster Students’ Union proudly stood alongside staff in their fight against University Management. These strikes will be no different with LUSU President Oliver Robinson confirming that “we continue to stand in support of our colleagues in the UCU.”
As well as supporting these upcoming staff strikes, NUS are calling for students to walk out in solidarity against the education system that doesn’t work for anyone on the 2nd March.