Durham UCU announces new strike dates until September with plans to disrupt uni open days
The uni has promised ‘detailed mitigations’ will limit disruption
The standoff between striking lecturers and Durham University escalated further this afternoon as the local UCU branch announced five new strike dates between now and September.
In an unprecedented move, striking Durham staff have chosen to target the university’s upcoming open days in June and September to heap pressure on the university in their ongoing dispute over pay and causalised contracts.
The additional strike dates will primarily affect open days at the university, and will be on:
• Friday 16th June (planned university open day)
• Saturday 17th June (planned university open day)
• Thursday 29th June
• Friday 15th September (planned university open day)
• Saturday 16th September (planned university open day)
Staff at the university are currently taking part in a marking and assessment boycott which has left students confused and angry as to whether they will graduate or qualify for Master’s degrees this summer.
Union members are calling for a pay rise worth the RPI rate of inflation and two per cent or 12 per cent – whichever is highest. They are also fighting for the end of temporary and zero-hour contracts. The UCU previously turned down an offer from the UCEA, the group which represents universities, worth between five and eight per cent.
With no deal in sight, last month Durham University announced it will graduate students even if only half of their final year assessments have been marked. For those who don’t have enough of their assessments marked, they will still “get to celebrate with families” but they won’t technically graduate on the day of their ceremony – this will only take place when enough units have been marked and it’s not been made clear to students when this will be.
Announcing the new strike action today, Durham UCU took aim at the university’s “punitive deductions used against staff participating in a lawful boycott”.
The union said it would call off the strike action only if Durham University followed Cambridge by issuing a public statement “calling for the UCEA to enter national negotiations to reach an agreed resolution of the current dispute”.
Durham UCU added: “Two of those dates are Saturdays. This is not a typo. Durham holds many open days on weekends, meaning many staff have to work on those dates as well.
“Indeed if you want a snapshot of how broken UK higher education is, it being clear how big a problem our members refusing to work on a Saturday is would be a pretty good one.
“Tell you what though, it’s going to be weird working no hours for no pay, rather than full hours for half.”
Tonight, Durham’s MP, Mary Kelly Foy waded into the debate throwing her support behind the new strike action.
The Labour MP wrote: “You have my full support Durham UCU.”
A spokesperson for the university told The Tab Durham: “We have received notification from Durham UCU of their intention to take strike action on 16, 17, 29 June and 15 and 16 of September. This is in addition to the marking and assessment boycott which is being undertaken by some staff. Detailed mitigations are in place to limit disruption.”
The university has said it will provide further updates shortly.