As some of you may be aware, the University and College Union (UCU) has announced that they will be going on strike for a further 14 days, having previously been on strike earlier this academic year towards the end of November.
The strike action will be staggered over a period of time spanning from 24 February to 20 March and will mean that it is likely that disruption to your studies is likely. These actions do not alter our continuous efforts to represent and work for your academic interests, which is always at the heart of what we do.
The imminent industrial action relates to the continuing disputes concerning pensions, pay, and working conditions. When industrial action occurred earlier this academic year, we circulated the following information on the two disputes:
Unlike the 2018 strikes, which were about ensuring the benefits of the pension scheme were safeguarded for staff, this round of strikes is concerning who contributes the funding to cover the increased costs necessary to maintain the pension scheme. The UCU believes that this cost should be covered by the employer (the University), not the employees (the members of academic staff).
The UCU is calling for the University to cover the deficit, through increased employer contributions, with no detriment to UCU members.
The UCU states that the pay of academic staff at universities has dropped by around 17% in ‘real wages’ since 2009 based on findings from the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA). In more general terms, ‘real wages’ go down for everyone when inflation is higher.
For example, if you get an annual pay rise of 2% but inflation is at 3%, it is a ‘real wages’ pay cut of 1% despite the extra pay; this is driven by economic trends and inflation.
The UCU is calling for the University to immediately take steps to reverse the supposed pay decline, by increasing staff pay. The working conditions dispute also focuses on the increased casualisation of staff, the gender and BAME pay gap, and increasing workloads.
Back in November, you as the student body voted in favour of supporting the initial industrial action in its entirety. This vote was held via a preferendum in which four options were presented, the full breakdown of results can be found here.
These results provided a clear mandate for us to support the industrial action, and we documented this support and what we were doing in a further blog.
Alongside actions to support the UCU’s stance, we had regular meetings with senior staff at the University to ensure your education was not disrupted due to the strike action.
In the coming week, the Officer group will be meeting to discuss how we approach this issue again now further strike action has been called.
We will be providing more information in the coming weeks and will continuously seek to represent students in the best way during this period, whichever direction we take, it is always our aim to support your education. For now, the full list of strike dates are detailed below:
Week 1: Monday 24, Tuesday 25 and Wednesday 26 February
Week 2: Monday 2, Tuesday 3, Wednesday 4 and Thursday 5 March
Week 3: Monday 9, Tuesday 10, Wednesday 11, Thursday 12 and Friday 13 March
Week 4: Thursday 19 and Friday 20 March.
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