Dates confirmed for “unprecedented” mass university strike action

"There is a clear route out of these disputes, but at present vice-chancellors lack the political will to take it"

Strike action that’s been described as “unprecedented” by the University and College Union (UCU) has been confirmed with a timetable of dates.

The UCU, which represents workers in the UK’s university sector, has said that 70,000 members are to walk out in February and March regarding disputes over pay, working conditions and pension cuts.

Up to 150 universities will be affected by the strikes, which will only be called off if university employers make substantially improved offers.

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The full dates of strike action next month is as follows: Wednesday 1 February, Thursday 9, Friday 10, Tuesday 14, Wednesday 15, Thursday 16, Tuesday 21, Wednesday 22 February, Thursday 23, Monday 27, Tuesday 28.

For March, it’s: Wednesday 1, Thursday 2 March, Thursday 16, Friday 17, Monday 20, Tuesday 21, Wednesday 22.

Today (January 25) the UCU is to meet with university employer representative the Universities and Colleges Employers Association.

UCU has said that it needs employers to substantially improve on the pay offer of 4-5 per cent to avoid disruption. UCU noted on its website that members are “demanding a meaningful pay rise to deal with the cost-of-living crisis as well as action to end the use of insecure contracts”.

In the pension dispute, UCU is fighting for employers to revoke cuts and restore benefits. “The package of cuts made last year will see the average member lose 35 per cent from their guaranteed future retirement income. For those at the beginning of their career the losses are in the hundreds of thousands of pounds,” a statement said on the UCU site.

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Additionally, UCU will also be re-balloting its 70,000 members at the 150 universities in dispute to extend the union’s mandate and allow staff to take further action through the rest of the academic year. The re-ballot campaign is to be launched this week.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “The university sector in the UK has over £40billion sitting in reserves, but instead of using that vast wealth to deliver a cost-of-living pay rise and reverse devastating pension cuts, university vice-chancellors would rather force staff to take strike action and see campuses shut down.

“There is a clear route out of these disputes, but at present vice-chancellors lack the political will to take it. They are failing staff who want to get back to work, and students who want to get on with their studies.

“Students understand that staff working conditions are their learning conditions and we are proud to have their support in these disputes. A system that relies on low pay and the rampant use of insecure contracts is a system which fails everyone.

“A resolution can be reached, but that is in the gift of university vice-chancellors who need to urgently reassess their priorities and deliver a deal that benefits staff and students. From February, our union will begin re-balloting its members to allow action to continue through the rest of the academic year, should they continue to drag their feet.”

For the full list of higher education institutions that will be affected by strike action, visit here.

In other related news, electronic music pioneer Richie Hawtin is set to launch a new scholarship programme at the University of Huddersfield.

The Richie Hawtin PhD Scholarship in Electronic Music, Cultures and Production will include personal tutoring from Hawtin, who has shaped the course of techno music over the past 30 years with records under his Plastikman and F.U.S.E. aliases.

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