70,000 university staff to strike next month on same day as other sectors
The University and College Union (UCU) announced on Tuesday (January 17) that over 70,000 staff at 150 universities will strike on Wednesday, February 1.
UCU is in dispute with 150 universities over the issues of pay, pensions and working conditions.
The union said ‘the clock is ticking’ for university bosses to make staff a serious offer and avoid disruption.
A further 17 days of strike action is due to take place over February and March.
The precise dates are to be announced by the union next week.
The action will coincide with Trades Union Congress’s (TUC) ‘protect the right to strike’ day.
Five unions, UCU, NEU, ASLEF, PCS and 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.
University staff have already taken three days of strike action this academic year after management imposed a pay rise worth just 3% this year following over a decade of below-inflation pay awards.
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 a meeting between employers and trade unions on January 16, the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) refused to move from an updated 4-5% offer made last week.
UCU said the offer was ‘not enough’.
In the pension dispute, UCU is demanding employers revoke the cuts and restore benefits.
The package of cuts made last year will see the average member lose 35% from their guaranteed future retirement income.
For those at the beginning of their careers the losses are in the hundreds of thousands of pounds.
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “Whilst the cost-of-living crisis rages, university vice-chancellors are dragging their feet and refusing to use the vast wealth in the sector to address over a decade of falling pay, rampant casualisation and massive pension cuts.
“On 1 February, 70,000 university staff will walk out alongside fellow trade unions and hundreds of thousands of other workers to demand their fair share.
“UCU remains committed to reaching a negotiated settlement, but if university employers don’t get serious and fast, more strike action will follow in February and March.”