The University and College Union (UCU) has confirmed 18 days of strike action in February and March in disputes over pay, conditions and attacks on pensions. With the exception of the week commencing Monday 6 March, there will be at least one day of strike action every week in the upcoming two months unless university employers make substantially improved offers in disputes over pay, working conditions and pension cuts.
On Tuesday 24 January, the University and College Union has confirmed the exact dates of its upcoming huge strike action, that was announced earlier in January. More than 70,000 staff at 150 universities across the UK could go on strike for 18 days in February and March if their demands are not met.
Except for the week commencing Monday 6 March, students can expect at least one day of strike action every week in the next two months, unless university employers make substantially improved offers in disputes over pay, working conditions and pension cuts.
There will be three days of strike action on the weeks commencing 13 and 21 February, as well as 20 March, and four days of strike on the last week of February. If the action goes ahead, it will be the biggest series of strikes ever to hit UK university campuses, according to the UCU.
The first day of strike will be Wednesday 1 February, as confirmed last week. The action on Wednesday 1 February will coincide with TUC’s ‘protect the right to strike’ day. The National Education Union (NEU), the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF), Public and Commercial Services (PCS) and the National Union of Rail Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) have already confirmed they will join the day of action against the Conservative government’s plans to introduce strict anti-strike measures through Parliament, in what will be one of the largest and most widespread actions since the General Strike of 1926.
The confirmed strike action dates are the following:
- Week 1 – Wednesday 1 February
- Week 2 – Thursday 9 and Friday 10 February
- Week 3 – Tuesday 14, Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 February
- Week 4 – Tuesday 21, Wednesday 22 and Thursday 23 February
- Week 5 – Monday 27 and Tuesday 28 February and Wednesday 1 and Thursday 2 March
- [No action week commencing Monday 6 March]
- Week 6 – Thursday 16 and Friday 17 March
- Week 7 – Monday 20, Tuesday 21 and Wednesday 22 March
On Wednesday, UCU representatives will meet with university employer representative the Universities and Colleges Employers Association to try to settle the wage and pensions dispute. According to the UCU’s press release “the union needs employers to substantially improve on the pay offer of 4-5% to avoid disruption. UCU is demanding a meaningful pay rise to deal with the cost-of-living crisis as well as action to end the use of insecure contracts.” In the pension dispute, UCU is demanding employers revoke the cuts and restore benefits.
‘There is a clear route out of these disputes, but at present vice-chancellors lack the political will to take it”, according to UCU general secretary Jo Grady.
“They are failing staff who want to get back to work, and students who want to get on with their studies. Students understand that staff working conditions are their learning conditions and we are proud to have their support in these disputes. A system that relies on low pay and the rampant use of insecure contracts is a system which fails everyone.
“A resolution can be reached, but that is in the gift of university vice-chancellors who need to urgently reassess their priorities and deliver a deal that benefits staff and students. From February, our union will begin reballoting its members to allow action to continue through the rest of the academic year, should they continue to drag their feet.”
In an earlier statement to Roar News, Dr. Ewan McGaughey, President of the KCL branch of the UCU declared that:
“It is unbelievable that university employers, while home student fees tripled since 2010 and international student fees doubled, want a 3 to 7% real pay cut for university teachers and research this year (that’s a 3 to 7% nominal pay “uplift” when there’s 10.7% inflation). University staff have had a real terms pay cut already of 20% since 2010, and this year alone KCL, for example, has an operating surplus of over £40 million. […] Employers need to call off their management shutdown and stop forcing strike action, pay people fairly, end the gender and race pay gaps, and treat students and staff with the dignity they deserve.”