UK universities and colleges face three-day strike in December | Higher Education

The campus will be hit by strikes at the beginning of next month, and there is a threat of more next year after the University and College Association announced that its members will stop working due to pension cuts, pay and working conditions.

The union said three consecutive days of strikes would take place from December 1 at the 58 institutions that supported labor market votes this month.

The 58 universities and colleges will be joined by a further six in carrying out other forms of combat action, including rigorous work to conclude contracts and refuse further duties, from the beginning of December and continue indefinitely.

Jo Grady, UCU’s secretary general, said: “While we set up pragmatic solutions that could halt widespread disruption of UK campuses, university heads refuse to revoke unnecessary, fluctuating pension cuts or even negotiate issues like casualization and the unbearably high workload that destroy education. .

A solution to this conflict is simple. But if employers remain keen to cut pensions and exploit staff who have kept this sector afloat during a pandemic, campuses will face pre-Christmas strike action, which will escalate into spring with re-election and further fighting. “

The announcement sets out what could be a bitter dispute between the union and university leaders, with Universities UK – representing employers in the pension dispute – rejecting Grady’s claim that there is a simple solution.

“We have repeatedly stated that we are willing to consult employers on any viable, affordable and implementable alternative proposal from UCU, and we remain fully committed to continuing the negotiations to develop a common approach,” said a UUK- spokesman.

The UCU said the initial three-day strike “will just be the start of persistent disruption …. If employers do not come up with improved deals, further fighting is likely to continue into the spring.”

The action is the latest chapter in a long-running dispute between staff – including teachers, researchers, librarians and administrators – and university employers. The strikes follow more than 18 months with severe disruption and unrest caused by the Covid pandemic that led to campuses being closed to most students.

Central to the dispute is the operation of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) and its management. The UCU claims that the USS’s trustees have burdened the system with pessimistic forecasts and have called for the fund to be revalued.

Others go on strike after supporting a separate vote on issues including precarious contracts, low wages and inequality.

The Universities and Colleges Employers’ Association said: “UCU members need to understand that any action aimed at harming students is an unrealistic attempt to try to force all 146 employers to reopen the completed National Wage Round 2021-22 and improve a result that, for most of these institutions, is already at the limit of what is affordable. “

Although the strike will disrupt teaching at the affected institutions, the National Union of Students said its poll among 1,600 students this month found overwhelming support, with 73% of students backing the strike and only 9% opposing it.

UUK said: “Universities will put in place measures to minimize the impact on students, other staff and the wider university community and will ensure that students can continue to learn and receive support.”

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