University staff across the United Kingdom began their walkout today(November 24) - the first of three days of industrial action. Members are striking over issues surrounding pay, pensions and working conditions.
It is set to be the country’s biggest ever University strike with over 70,000 members taking part. The University and College Union (UCU) is the board behind the action, which is also supported by The National Union of Students.
Strike action will also take place on Friday(November 25) and Wednesday (November 30). Students are set to be affected in a number of ways, including the cancellation of lectures, though universities are said to be putting measures in place to mitigate the impact on learning, such as rescheduling teaching and extra materials.
Members, who not only include lecturers but cleaners, administrators, security and catering staff as well, are joining the picket line due to working conditions, saying they are exhausted and totally overwhelmed by their schedules.
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “Staff are burnt out but they are fighting back and they will bring the whole sector to a standstill. Vice-chancellors only have themselves to blame. Their woeful leadership has led to the biggest vote for strike action ever in our sector. Students are standing with staff because they know this can’t go on.”
The UCU is demanding a pay increase for its members that reflects inflation and the ongoing cost of living crisis hitting the UK. They are also calling for the end to insecure contracts and a reverse to any cuts made to its members’ pensions. The cuts will lead to the average member of staff losing around 35-percent of their retirement income.
The UCU campaign follows a number of strikes confined to smaller groups of universities. It is the latest in a wave of escalating industrial action taking place across the UK this winter, including action by thousands of teachers in Scotland who are also due to strike today (November 24) with even more dates planned for 2023.