Universities and colleges in the U.K will go on strike for 3 days in December

Campuses will be hit by strikes beginning next month, with more planned for next year, after the University and College Union announced that its members will go on strike over pension cuts, pay, and working conditions.

The union announced that three consecutive days of strikes would begin on December 1st at the 58 institutions that supported ballots for industrial action earlier this month.

From the beginning of December and continuing indefinitely, the 58 universities and colleges will be joined by a further six in taking other forms of industrial action, such as strict working to contract and refusing additional duties.

“While we set out pragmatic solutions that could halt widespread disruption on UK campuses, university bosses refuse to revoke unnecessary, swingeing pension cuts or even negotiate on issues like casualization and the unbearably high workloads that blight higher education,” said Jo Grady, general secretary of the UCU.

“A resolution to this dispute is simple. But if employers remain intent on slashing pensions and exploiting staff who have kept this sector afloat during a pandemic then campuses will face strike action before Christmas, which will escalate into spring with reballots and further industrial action.”

The announcement could spark a furious feud between the union and university officials, with Universities UK – which represents employers in the pensions dispute – dismissing Grady’s suggestion that a simple solution exists.

“We have repeatedly stated our willingness to consult employers on any viable, affordable and implementable alternative proposal from the UCU and we remain fully committed to continuing talks to develop a joint approach,” a UUK spokesperson said.

UCU said the initial three-day strike “will just be the start of sustained disruption…. If employers do not make improved offers, further industrial action is likely to continue into the spring.”

The lawsuit is the latest chapter in a long-running battle between university employees and lecturers, researchers, librarians, and administrators. The strikes come after more than 18 months of extreme disruption and instability caused by the Covid epidemic, which forced most students to leave university.

The Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) and its management are at the heart of the issue. The trustees of the USS, according to UCU, have loaded the scheme with dismal expectations and have demanded that the fund be revalued.

Others are striking after voting yes in a separate referendum on problems such as precarious contracts, low pay, and inequality.

“Any industrial action aimed at harming students is an unrealistic attempt to force all 146 employers to reopen the concluded 2021-22 national pay round and improve on an outcome that is already at the very limit of what is affordable for most of these institutions,” the Universities and Colleges Employers’ Association said.

Despite the fact that the strike will disrupt teaching at the impacted schools, the National Union of Students claimed its poll of 1,600 students earlier this month indicated overwhelming support for the walkout, with 73 percent in favor and only 9% opposed.

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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