Credit: UCU via Twitter

UCU strike action confirmed

By Ashmita Shanthakumar and Callum Sneddon

University staff to walk out for 10 days of industrial action over ongoing pay and pension disputes, as the University of Glasgow “guarantees” minimisation of impact to students during this time.

The University and Colleges Union (UCU) has confirmed university strike action will take place across 68 universities in the UK, including the University of Glasgow during both February and March.  50,000 members of staff are expected to walk out, with predictions that 1m students will be impacted. Staff will be striking on February 14-18, 21 and 22. Industrial action will continue the following week, ending after the final period between February 28 – March 2, making it 10 days in total. The final day of industrial action coincides with NUS strike action calling for free higher education. 

The strike is taking place due to the “four fights dispute” which include: battles over pension cuts, decreasing pay, poor working conditions, and equality failings. These are the same issues that caused the strike in December of last year. The UCU is demanding a £2.5k pay increase for all staff, in addition to action taking place to resolve issues with work contracts and conditions. 

At present, Universities UK (UUK), representing the employers in the dispute, is proposing a cut of roughly 35% in the average lecturer’s guaranteed retirement income. Prior to the confirmation of strike action taking place, the UCU put forward new proposals involving a new valuation which more accurately reflects the financial health of the pension scheme, as well as a new cost-sharing arrangement between employers and employees and levels of contribution which will protect current retirement benefits.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “It is a damning indictment of the way our universities are managed that staff are being left with no option but to walk out again. For a sector that is worth tens of billions of pounds and enjoys record levels of student growth it is beyond disgraceful that, in return, staff get vicious pension cuts, falling pay and are pushed to breaking point under deteriorating working conditions.” 

Glasgow’s University Secretary, David Duncan, emailed all students on Friday to alert them of strike action, saying: “Previous periods of strike action have had an uneven impact on students across the University.  About a quarter of classes tend to be cancelled on strike days, with some disciplines affected more severely than others.”

He continued: “Further industrial action will make no difference whatsoever to the University’s position on pay, pensions, and related issues.  The University cannot resolve the disputes through local negotiations and we will continue to call for further talks leading to amicable settlements to the national pensions and pay disputes. 

“If members of staff intend to take part in strike action, we ask them to inform their students in advance. The University deeply regrets any disruption to students’ education.  We will do everything we can to mitigate the effect on students.  All University building and services will remain open on strike days – including the libraries and student areas. 

“We give a guarantee that no student will be assessed on work which they have not covered.  We will also ensure that all students will be able to complete their courses and to graduate on time.

“It is possible that efforts to resolve the disputes at national level will be successful over the coming days.  If this is the case, we will of course inform you as soon as possible.”

To find out more about industrial action, information can be found via University resources here. To find out more about the UCU, please follow this link.


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