University staff strike over ‘insulting’ pay offer.

‘UCU members will walk out on Wednesday 25 May and Thursday 26 May. As well as the two-day walkout, protests are planned around the UK with rallies taking place in Belfast, Birmingham, Brighton, Cambridge, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield. UCU members will also begin working to contract from Wednesday, 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 further strike action which could affect open days, graduation ceremonies and the clearing process.’ - Telegraph

‘The union has rejected a 1.1% pay offer from employers, arguing that universities could afford to pay more after the pay and benefits of university leaders went up by 5.1% last year.

The UCU’s general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: “A 1.1% pay offer is an insult to hard-working staff, especially in light of the 5% pay rise vice-chancellors have enjoyed while holding down staff pay. Members have made it clear that they won’t tolerate a continued squeeze on their income, pay inequality and the increasing job insecurity blighting the sector.

“It’s time to invest properly in the teachers, researchers and administrators who are the backbone of our universities. Industrial action which impacts on students is never taken lightly, but members feel that they have been left with no alternative. If the employers wish to see a swift end to this dispute, and avoid further disruption, they need to come back to the table with a much-improved offer.”’ - Guardian

‘The current fee regime, the increasing pressure on part-time and zero-hours staff, not to mention on the many PhD students paid hourly for teaching and marking work that vastly exceeds the wages received, makes it easy for students to see themselves reflected in those who teach them. There are no more ivory towers, though vice-chancellors may dream of buying one for themselves. As students and lecturers can equally see, there’s only precarity and debt for the vast majority, both inside and outside the academy.

Ensuring the quality of the UK’s higher education provision, of questioning and challenging preconceived ideas, of introducing students to concepts that will change their mind and life, is at the heart of what we university lecturers do. But we must be allowed to get to the heart of our subjects, without students feeling like consumers and lecturers feeling overworked and undervalued. The university is not a market – not everything should be.

These strikes will be disruptive for a reason: things cannot go on as they are. The contemporary university is a highly unbalanced and unfair place, with casualised workers bearing the brunt of the labour but the least amount of pay or security.’ – Opinion piece in Guardian

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