Everything you need to know about the upcoming lecturer strikes
There’s a chance they could be called off
Lecturers at 58 universities around the UK have voted to go on strike amid a wider dispute over pay and pensions. After a year of online teaching, some students are pissed off the strikes are happening, while others are keen to support their lecturers’ fight against what they believe to be unfair working conditions. Universities minister Michelle Donelan has claimed strikes “will not help students in any way,” while UCU boss Jo Grady encouraged students to direct their anger at the people in charge.
The debate is certainly polarised, but what’s important to note is that lecturer strikes mean different things for almost every uni. Lecturers at different universities are striking for different reasons. Some aren’t striking at all. And there’s a chance that the strikes might not even go ahead.
Here’s a handy guide detailing everything you need to know about the proposed lecturer strikes.
Why are lecturers striking?
Lecturers from every corner of the UK recently voted on whether they should go on strike. Of the 58 unis where lecturers voted to strike, 21 did so over concerns surrounding poor pay, while four universities chose to strike over pensions and 33 institutions over both areas.
Who is involved in the dispute?
UCU, or the University and College Union, is a trade union representing the interests of over 130,000 university academics, lecturers, librarians and other staff around the country. UCU organised the votes on the latest round of strikes and has also released a set of demands that need to be fulfilled if the strikes are to be called off.
UCU is headed up by general secretary Jo Grady who told The Times: “It is scandalous that university vice-chancellors on overinflated salaries seem to think doing nothing on pay, casualisation and inequality is acceptable in a sector awash with money.
“We truly hope that disruption can be avoided, that is what staff and students alike all want. But this is entirely in the gift of employers who simply need to end their attacks on pensions, pay and working conditions and finally demonstrate they value their staff.”
UUK, or Universities UK, is the collective body representing the interests of the universities themselves.
USS stands for Universities Superannuation Scheme and is basically the pension scheme for 400,000 people who work at universities or higher education providers. UCU claims that cuts to USS pensions will reduce the income of a retired lecturer by up to 35 per cent.
Basically UCU is angry with UUK about the USS… and other things like casualised contracts.
What is a casualised contract?
This is phrase that gets thrown around a lot and put simply it relates to any kind of contract that may leave staff in an insecure position. Fixed term contracts, hourly-paid contracts, variable hours contracts are all types of casualised or precarious contracts
UCU claims these kind of contracts have increased in number within the university sector, leading to unstable working conditions for staff.
Where are lecturers striking?
As mentioned before, lecturers are striking at different unis for different reasons. Click this link for a full breakdown of where lecturers will be going on strike and the issues involved.
UCU may re-ballot some universities where lecturers didn’t vote to go on strike, so there’s a chance that list could get even bigger.
Is there any chance the strikes might get called off?
Yes, but probably not. UCU has issued a set of demands that need to be met by university employers if they are to call off the strikes.
On pay, UCU is calling for employers to increase staff pay and to take meaningful steps to clamp down on casualisation, workload and equality pay gaps. On pensions, UCU is calling on employers to go back on what they believe are “detrimental” changes to the pension schemes of their members.
In the event that employers (UUK) concede to these demands, UCU will call off the strikes.
Where are we up to right now?
UCU is currently preparing the next steps with regard to finalising when the strikes will be and what form they will take. Currently we don’t know how long they will last or when exactly they will take place, although all indications suggest they will occur before Christmas.