Photo: Olivia Ridgeway/YouTube
Over 70,000 university staff at 150 universities will strike for three days later this month, in a row over pay, working conditions and pensions.
Staff will walk out on Thursday 24th, Friday 25th & Wednesday 30th November, with some also expected to strike on Wednesday 23rd November.
Members of the union will also descend on London on 30th November for what they are calling “the biggest demonstration of UCU members.”
The strikes come after UCU members overwhelmingly voted in favour of industrial action last month in two national ballots over pay and working conditions as well as pension cuts. Despite the result, vice-chancellors have not made any improved offers.
The union demands a meaningful pay rise to deal with the cost-of-living crisis and action to end the use of insecure contracts. Employers imposed a pay rise worth just 3% this year following over a decade of below-inflation pay awards. A third of academic staff are on some form of temporary contract.
They are also demanding employers revoke the cuts and restore benefits around pensions. The package of cuts made earlier this year will see the average member lose 35% of their guaranteed future retirement income. For those, at the beginning of their careers, the losses are in the hundreds of thousands of pounds.
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “This is not a dispute about affordability - it is about choices. Vice-chancellors are choosing to pay themselves hundreds of thousands of pounds whilst forcing our members onto low paid and insecure contracts that leave some using foodbanks. They choose to hold billions in surpluses whilst slashing staff pensions.
“UCU members do not want to strike but are doing so to save the sector and win dignity at work. This dispute has the mass support of students because they know their learning conditions are our members' working conditions.
“If university vice-chancellors don't get serious, our message is simple - this bout of strike action will be just the beginning.
The National Union of Students (NUS) is backing the strikes, which will be the biggest ever to hit UK universities and could impact 2.5 million students.
Chloe Field, NUS vice-president for Higher Education said: “Students stand in solidarity with the 70,000 university staff across the UK who will strike later this month. Staff teaching conditions are students' learning conditions, and we must fight together for a fairer, healthier education system for everyone who works and studies.”
The University of Salford & University of Salford Students' Union have been contacted for comment