After a year of Covid disruption, lecturer strikes are now ‘inevitable,’ says UCU boss

Will we ever set foot on campus?

After a year of Covid-related disruption including lectures being shifted online and students being barred from campus, lecturer strikes for the upcoming academic year are now “inevitable.”

UCU, the union representing lecturers and other university staff, has emailed over 50,000 members calling them to a mass meeting, and telling them to prepare to strike.

The same disputes surrounding precarious contracts and pension pay that prompted the last wave of strikes have rumbled on and remain unresolved, hence why the union is planning a strike once again.

The latest development arose after a meeting between the Universities Superannuation Scheme’s (USS), the Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) and UCU, during which a package of severe cuts was voted through by employers.

UCU pushed for improvements to pensions for staff on low pay or precarious contracts, but their proposals were seemingly ignored. Now, UCU says the only way to avoid strike action is for the proposals to be reconsidered.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady, said: “Employers represented by Universities UK (UUK) have [yesterday] voted to implement a set of regressive USS pension proposals that will reduce member benefits, discourage low paid and insecurely employed staff from joining USS, and threaten the viability of the scheme as a whole.

“Employers have failed to support alternative compromise proposals put forward by UCU, drawn up under the constraints of a flawed 2020 valuation of the scheme.

“Unless employers allow for a rapid consultation on our proposals with a view to revoking their decision, the path looks inevitably to lead to industrial action – and that is the responsibility of UUK.”

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