UCU are holding a two-day national strike at UK universities as part of an ongoing dispute over pay.
UCU members in higher education will walk out on Wednesday 25 and Thursday 26 May. Staff will also begin working to contract from 25 May, which means they will refuse to work overtime, set additional work or undertake any voluntary duties like covering timetabled classes for absent colleagues.
If no agreement is reached in the coming weeks, members have agreed to target further strike action in June and July, and are considering additional action in August to coincide with the release of A-level results. The union is also beginning preparations for a boycott of the setting and marking of students’ work, to begin in the autumn if an acceptable offer has still not been made.
The dispute has arisen following a pay offer of 1.1% from the employer body, the Universities and Colleges Employers’ Association (UCEA), which the union has described as ‘an insult’. UCU said universities could afford to pay more and that the latest offer does little to address the real terms pay cut of 14.5% suffered by higher education staff since 2009.
The squeeze on staff salaries comes at a time when pay and benefits for university leaders have increased, on average, by 3%, with the average pay and pensions package for vice-chancellors standing at over £270,000.
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt said: ‘Members in higher education have sent a clear message to employers that, after six years of real-terms pay cuts amounting to 14.5%, they will not tolerate a continued squeeze on their income. Industrial action which impacts on students is never taken lightly, but staff feel that they have been left with no alternative.
‘A 1.1% offer is an insult to the hard work and dedication of higher education staff, particularly in light of the 3% average pay rise enjoyed by vice-chancellors this year. The ball is now in UCEA’s court, but the employers need to come back to the table with a much improved offer if they wish to avoid significant disruption to students in the coming months.’