University strikes: one million students face disruption

25 November 2019, 12:24

University strikes: one million students face disruption
University strikes: one million students face disruption. Picture: PA

Thousands of university staff will walk out for eight days from Monday in a move which will disrupt lectures for over a million students.

Up to 43,000 members of the University and College Union (UCU) at 60 UK universities will strike in disputes over pay, conditions and pensions with further industrial action being threatened if agreements cannot be reached.

As well as eight strike days from 25 November to Wednesday 4 December, union members will begin 'action short of a strike'.

This involves things like working strictly to contract, not covering for absent colleagues and refusing to reschedule lectures lost to strike action.

Those going on strike include lecturers, student support services staff, admissions tutors, librarians, technicians and administrators.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady warned that a second wave of strikes could be held in the new year if the deadlocked disputes remain unresolved.

University leaders say they will try to lessen the impact of the action and insist they want to work with the union to reach an agreement.

But the UCU said staff had reached "breaking point" over a number of issues, including workloads, real-terms cuts in pay, a 15% gender pay gap and changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), which the union says will leave members paying in more and receiving less in retirement.

Many universities were also employing academic staff on "discredited" zero-hours contracts, said the union.