The University and College Union (UCU) has announced that lecturers from all UK universities will be striking on November 24, 25, and 30.
70,000 UCU members are set to deliver the biggest picket lines seen in the history of University strikes, although this number may be lower, given historic low turnouts. The NUS (National Union of Students) has backed the strikes, which are estimated to impact 2.5 million students. The UCU have announced that “disruption can be avoided if employers act fast and make improved offers.”
Thursday November 24 and Friday 25 will see the total stopping of work from those staff represented by the Union. Industrial action of short strike (ASoS) will begin on November 23. This includes refusing to make up work lost as a result of strike action and refusing to cover for absent colleagues.
On Wednesday November 30 there will be a demonstration in London, set to be the largest in UCU history. Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has announced his support and commitment to join the picket line.
Strike action is set to escalate in the new year, with potential marking and assessments boycotts, if the demands of the November strikes are not met by University employers.
On October 24 the union voted “overwhelmingly” in support of strike action. The two separate disputes driving the strike action are pension cuts and pay and working conditions. UCU saw an 84.9% vote in favour of strike action over pension cuts, with a 60.2% turnout. The pay and working conditions ballot passed with 81.1% in favour and a 57.8% turnout.
According to UCU, frontline teaching staff are signed to precarious short-term contracts. Further issues concerning higher education pay include ethnic, gender and disability pay gaps. University staff are typically expected to work beyond their designated hours, despite having seen the rate of their pay fall to three-quarters of its 2009 value.
When contacted for comment, A University spokesperson said:
“We are disappointed at the outcome of the University and College Union’s (UCU’s) ballots in favour of industrial action in relation to pay and working conditions and the USS pension. These were aggregated ballots across all institutions. We are already planning mitigations to minimise the impact on our students and ensure they continue to receive the experience they deserve.
“We appreciate the difficult and challenging times in which we are living, and we are taking active steps to support our staff and students.
“We will communicate further once we have confirmed details of the action which will be taken by UCU in response to the result.”
The University of Manchester Students’ Union has been contacted for comment.