Oxford University strikes

Oxford Uni lecturers to strike for more than 40 per cent of teaching in next two months

UCU members will strike for 18 days in February and March


Oxford University lecturers are to strike for more than 40 per cent of scheduled teaching over the next two months in what the University and College Union (UCU) has described as an “unprecedented programme of escalating strike action”.

Staff at Oxford who are members of the UCU will walk out for 18 days between February and March, in what is said to be the largest ever university strike in the UK. You can see the exact dates here.

Given there are 20 working days in February and a further 23 in March, it means striking lecturers will stop teaching for 41 per cent of the period.

Oxford staff are among more than 70,000 others at 150 universities across the UK taking part in the dispute over pay, working conditions and pensions.

However, students at Oxford are likely to be far less severely impacted than their counterparts at other universities. The majority of teaching should go ahead as planned in the strike period as approximately only 11 per cent of staff at Oxford are members of the UCU.

UCU members previously went on strike in November, the university told  students at the time to attend all their teaching as normal. The university added whilst services such as libraries may be affected by striking staff, any changes to teaching would be “advertised locally”.

Annoucing the latest strike action last night, UCU General Secretary Jo Grady said: “Today our union came together to back an unprecedented programme of escalating strike action. The clock is now ticking for the sector to produce a deal or be hit with widespread disruption.

“University staff dedicate their lives to education and they want to get back to work, but that will only happen if university vice-chancellors use the vast wealth of the sector to address over a decade of falling pay, rampant insecure employment practices and devastating pension cuts. The choice is theirs.”

The UCU was offered a pay rise on Wednesday from the University and Colleges Employers Assocation (UCEA). The association, which represents university employers, offered “between 4-5 per cent” according to the UCU.

However, this deal was considered “not enough” by the union with its members demanding a “meaningful pay rise” to deal with the cost-of-living crisis and an end to the use of “insecure contracts”.

The UCEA dispute this figure, instead describing the offer as an increase of up to 7 per cent, with a minimum of 5 per cent for those earning up to £51,000.

UCEA chief executive, Raj Jethwa, said: “This is six months early as a direct response to current cost of living concerns.”

The strike dates, which will take place before Easter, are to be confirmed next week. The UCU warned however, further disruption could be ahead with the possibility of a marking boycott from April.

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Featured image via Twitter/@OxfordUCU