University and College Union (UCU), the further and higher education workers’ union, has announced a further series of strikes to take place next month and in March. The 14 strikes are scheduled to take place over a four-week period, beginning with a five-day walkout around a weekend.
61 universities will see these strikes take place, as lecturers, researchers and admin staff protest changes to their pension contributions which they say will leave them almost £10,000 worse off. The move to strike follows the disintegration of talks between UCU and the employers’ representative Universities (UUK) to transform the scheme.
University of Cambridge staff will join with members of other prestigious Russell Group universities, such as Oxford, Manchester, Exeter, and University College London. In a recent strike ballot, 88% of members were in favour of striking, with 93% backing action short of a strike.
According to the UCU press release, the first walkout will take place over the 22nd and 23rd of February, followed by three days the following week (26-28 February), escalating to a four-day walkout between the 5th and 8th of March. Strike action ends with the five-day walkout the following week (12-16 March).
Sally Hunt, the UCU general secretary, commented: ‘Staff who have delivered the international excellence universities boast of are understandably angry at efforts to slash their pensions. They feel let down by vice-chancellors who seem to care more about defending their own pay and perks then the rights of their staff.’
This magnitude of strike action has not been seen before on UK campuses, and seven more universities, which failed to meet the government’s new 50% turnout requirement for strike action to be allowed, will be balloted again.