Today’s disruptions to learning are worse for students as more than 50k university employees have gone on a three-day strike.
Due to today’s strike at 58 campus across the country, classes are being cancelled at universities and services interrupted.
The strikes will affect more than 1 million students already affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Chief university officers blame ‘uncompromising, hard-left’ union barons for making ‘unrealistic’ demands for better pay and pension deals.
Staff are demanding the minimum wage, according to UCU and University and College Union (UCU), which organized the strikes.
Pictures today of university workers from the union at picket lines outside Birmingham University illustrate this.
A placard said “We are at breaking point” and was carried by one person. Another sign stated: “This strike is brought you courtesy UoB senior management.”
Today’s disruption to students’ learning is intensified by the three-day strike that began today among more than 50,000 staff at universities, including lecturers. Pictured today: Birmingham University picket lines
The strike began at 58 universities across the country and has now been rescinded. Pictured: Students protest outside the Cambridge University Building
Today, pickets could also be seen outside Queen’s University in Belfast where there are strikes.
An earlier in the day, a picket line was set up at the University of Cambridge.
One group was also seen with a banner that read: “The longer you picket…the shorter your strike.”
Pickets were also seen today outside Queen’s University, Belfast, where strikes are also taking place.
Last night, Universities UK – which represents vice chancellors – said the pension demands were ‘unrealistic’ in their demands.
They said agreeing to the pay and pensions deal put forward by the UCU could lead to ‘insolvency’.
And they claimed the UCU campaign is ‘nothing more than a smokescreen for their ideologically entrenched opposition to corporate finance’.
The group said lecturers who were walking out had been captured by the hard left faction of the Universities and College Union (UCU) – the UCU Left’ faction – which is affiliated with the Socialist Workers Party.
However UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: ‘Staff are asking for the bare minimum… but sadly, the only time vice chancellors seem to listen is when staff take action.’
Ms Grady warns that more industrial action may take place this spring, if the dispute continues with employers.
An earlier picket line was set up in front of a University of Cambridge campus. One group was holding a banner that said: “The longer the picket…the less strike.”
Last night, Universities UK – which represents vice chancellors – said the pension demands were ‘unrealistic’ in their demands. Pictured: Staff from Cambridge University picket outside Haddon Library, Cambridge
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: ‘Staff are asking for the bare minimum… but sadly, the only time vice chancellors seem to listen is when staff take action.’ Pictured: Cambridge University staff picket outside the Senate House in Cambridge
Three-day strike by Queen’s University staff over pensions, pay and conditions
According to The Times, Universities UK were criticizing the demands in an open email published on a blog. UUK stated that two UCU Left faction academics had rejected a compromise proposal regarding pensions.
One of the union’s key negotiators was Dr Marion Hersh, a senior lecturer in biomedical engineering at Glasgow University who is against ‘marketisation’ and has spoken about ‘decolonising’ the curriculum.
Another academic linked to the blog post is Dr Deepa Govindarajan Driver, an adviser to regulators and banks and a lecturer in governance, regulation and risk at Henley Business School, part of Reading University.
Following votes for industrial action in two different disputes, members of the UCU are expected to walk off between Wednesday and Friday.
Overall, 76% of UCU members who voted supported strike action to address changes in pensions.
71% of union members voted in favor of strike action during the poll on conditions and pay.
Queen Mary University London students began a strike of eight days in protest against the University and College Union’s decision to terminate their pensions. The strikes started in November 2019.
The three strikes days are not the only ones. Union members can also begin industrial action starting on December 1 by refusing additional duties or working towards a contract.
UCU claims cuts to Universities Superannuation scheme (USS) pensions would decrease the guaranteed retirement income for a member by 35%.
The union organized a series walkouts during 2019 and 2020 to protest pensions, conditions and pay. These actions affected UK universities. In 2018, there was also strike action over a dispute about pensions.