University staff strikes: will UCLan experience walkouts and when will planned national strikes happen

UCLan has confirmed it will remain open as national university staff strikes take place this week.
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Bosses at the University of Central Lancashire say that strike action planned for this Wednesday is “disappointing” as it could cause further "uncertainty and disruption” to students’ learning following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Why are university staff striking nationally?

The University and College Union (UCU) has declared unprecedented strike action at 150 UK universities throughout February and March. In total, 70,000 UCU members will walk out.

Exterior of Burnley College Sixth Form in Burnley, part of UCLan. Photo: Kelvin StuttardExterior of Burnley College Sixth Form in Burnley, part of UCLan. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard
Exterior of Burnley College Sixth Form in Burnley, part of UCLan. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard
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Staff are campaigning for higher wages due to the rising cost of living, as well as better working conditions and pension cuts.

When will university staff strikes happen nationally?

The full dates of strike action are:

Week 1 - Wednesday, February 1st;

Week 2 - Thursday, February 9th and Friday 10th.

Week 3 - Tuesday February 14th, Wednesday 15th and Thursday 16th.

Week 4 - Tuesday, February 21st, Wednesday 22nd and Thursday 23rd.

Week 5 - Monday, February 27th and Tuesday 28th, and Wednesday, March 1st and Thursday 2nd.

[No action week commencing Monday, March 6th]

Week 6 - Thursday, March 16th and Friday 17th.

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Week 7 - Monday, March 20th, Tuesday 21st and Wednesday 22nd.

What has UCLan said about the strike action?

A spokesperson for UCLan said: “The decision by the University and College Union (UCU) to hold 18 days of strike across all universities in February and March is very disappointing, and first and foremost our concern is for our students. They have already been through a period of considerable uncertainty and disruption due to the pandemic so we will do everything we can to minimise the impact on them. It is also important to know that not all academics are part of this union or will choose to strike, so UCLan will be open as usual on these strike days and a lot of teaching will still go ahead. We will be working hard to keep our students regularly updated.”

What has the UCU said about its plans?

Jo Grady, UCU general secretary, said: “The university sector in the UK has over £40bn. sitting in reserves, but instead of using that vast wealth to deliver a cost-of-living pay rise and reverse devastating pension cuts, university vice-chancellors would rather force staff to take strike action and see campuses shut down.

“There is a clear route out of these disputes, but at present vice-chancellors lack the political will to take it. They are failing staff who want to get back to work, and students who want to get on with their studies.

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“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.”

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