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BREAKING: UCU Strike Action at the End of November

UCU strike action
Photo by Nadya Oppenheim

The University and College Union (UCU) has announced three days of strike action later this month, in what will be their biggest strike ever.

Around 70,000 university staff at 150 universities will take part in industrial action. Staff will be striking on the following days:

  • Thursday, the 24th of November
  • Friday, the 25th of the November
  • Wednesday, the 30th of November

The strikes are a result of last month’s vote on the industrial action, in which a high number of UCU members voted ‘yes’ as a result of unfair pay, working conditions and pension cuts.

A meaningful rise in pay to deal with the cost-of-living crisis, end of insecure contracts and revoking the pension cuts and restoring benefits are some of the demands of the UCU.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “Campuses across the UK are about to experience strike action on a scale never seen before. 70,000 staff will walk out and make clear they refuse to accept falling pay, cuts to pensions and insecure employment.

“This is not a dispute about affordability – it is about choices. Vice-chancellors are choosing to pay themselves hundreds of thousands of pounds whilst forcing our members onto low paid and insecure contracts that leave some using foodbanks. They choose to hold billions in surpluses whilst slashing staff pensions.

“UCU members do not want to strike but are doing so to save the sector and win dignity at work. This dispute has the mass support of students because they know their learning conditions are our members’ working conditions.

“If university vice-chancellors don’t get serious, our message is simple – this bout of strike action will be just the beginning.”

This cycle of industrial action has been backed by the National Union of Students (NUS). The wave of strikes is set to impact around 2.5 million students.

NUS vice president higher education, Chloe Field, said: “The struggles we face as students are inextricably linked to the reasons that staff are striking. High rents, astronomical international student fees, and cuts to maintenance support have happened for the same reasons that staff are suffering under huge workloads – the failed marketisation of the sector which has put profit above staff and student well-being.

“Universities and employers must come to the table and take meaningful action to end these disputes. They have a responsibility to their staff and students to end unacceptable pay disparities for racialised staff, disabled staff, and women, and to protect staff pensions to that they can have a decent retirement. As the workers of the future, students have everything to gain from UCU members winning this fight.”

Last year, KCLSU members voted against supporting strike action.

Dr Ewan McGaughey, KCL branch president of UCU, stated: “The national strike action announced can be stopped with good faith bargaining from the employers. They’ve been hiking student fees every year, and put 20% less in real terms into teachers’ pay since 2010. We’ve got to stop building fancy buildings without caring about the people inside. We need fair pay, democracy in our university workplaces, and concrete action on equal parental leave and child care to end the structural causes of the gender and race pay gaps. In all of these things, we’ll work with King’s management if they will talk.”

Roar will continue to update you as the situation develops.

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