University lecturers set to strike over pay

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union
Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union
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UNIVERSITY LECTURERS are to take part in a two-day national walkout later this month in an ongoing row over pay.

The University and College Union (UCU) said members will stage strikes at UK universities on May 25 and 26.

Further industrial action will see staff working to contract from this point, which includes refusing to work overtime, set additional work or undertake voluntary tasks such as covering for colleagues.

The move is likely to cause disruption on campuses around the country.

Further strikes could follow in June and July if no agreement is reached, UCU said, adding that it is also considering action in August to coincide with the release of A-level results.

Preparation for a boycott of setting and marking students’ work, starting in the autumn, is also under way, the union said.

University employers’ body University and Colleges Employers’ Association (UCEA) said planning for any sort of industrial action was “disappointing” and accused UCU of trying to cause disruption.

The latest announcement is the escalation of a continuing dispute between the two parties over pay.

As well as lecturers, researchers, librarians and other higher education staff are due to take part in the walkouts.

The union has argued that a 1.1 per cent pay offer made by UCEA is an “insult” and that institutions can afford to pay more.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: “Members in higher education have sent a clear message to employers that, after six years of real-terms pay cuts amounting to 14.5 per cent, they will not tolerate a continued squeeze on their income.

“Industrial action which impacts on students is never taken lightly, but staff feel that they have been left with no alternative.

“A 1.1 per cent offer is an insult to the hard work and dedication of higher education staff, particularly in light of the three per cent average pay rise enjoyed by vice-chancellors this year.

“The ball is now in UCEA’s court, but the employers need to come back to the table with a much improved offer if they wish to avoid significant disruption to students in the coming months.”

A UCEA spokesman said: “Planning for any form of industrial action is disappointing for higher education (HE) institutions with one trade union on a path to try and cause disruption.

“The vast majority of staff in HE institutions understand the reality of the current environment and do not support action that could harm both their institutions and their students.

“A strike, following a properly conducted ballot, is entirely lawful but withdrawing labour is a breach of contract leaving HE institutions with no choice but to deduct full pay from any member of staff taking strike action.

“UCEA and the HE institutions are dismayed that the UCU has targeted students from the very outset of pay discussions.”