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Over 70,000 UK University Lecturers, Others To Embark On Strike Over Pay, Pensions

November 24, 2022

No fewer than 70,000 United Kingdom university staff including lecturers, librarians and researchers will embark on a three-day strike action over pay, working conditions and pensions which will affect at least 150 universities.

BBC reports that the University and College Union (UCU) says the strike, which will also take place on Friday and Wednesday next week, will bring the sector to a standstill, as up to 2.5 million students could face disruption in what has been described as the biggest strike in the history of UK higher education.

Also, university administrators, cleaners, security and catering staff who are members of Unison will embark on industrial action over pay at 19 universities.

The UCU general secretary, Jo Grady, who warned of “Even bigger action” in the new year unless there was an improved offer from employers said that “Staff are burnt out but they are fighting back and they will bring the whole sector to a standstill.”

Grady added that “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.”

According to her, "University staff have had enough of falling pay, pension cuts and gig-economy working conditions - all whilst vice-chancellors enjoy lottery win salaries."

She added that further disruption could be avoided if concerns were "addressed with urgency."

BBC reports that the UCU is demanding a pay rise of inflation (RPI) +2%, or 12%, whichever is higher, as well as an end to zero and temporary contracts and action to tackle "excessive workloads."

It was reported that the dispute over pensions has been rumbling on for more than a decade, and was reignited by what the UCU said was a "flawed" valuation of a pension scheme used by academic staff.

The UCU said the average member "will lose 35% from their guaranteed future retirement income."

Speaking on the matter, Prof Steve West, president of Universities UK and vice-chancellor of UWE Bristol, said the scheme "remains one of the most attractive private pension schemes in the country."

Prof. West said students may be worried by further disruption, adding: "Universities are well prepared to mitigate the impact of any industrial action on students' learning, and we are all working hard to put in place a series of measures to ensure this."

Meanwhile, the National Union of Students is said to be supporting the strikes, but some students are concerned about missing classes.