Confirmed: Five days of strikes will take place at the University of York this September

Staff at both universities in York will be striking at the start of this semester

The UCU have announced five days of strikes to take place at 140 UK universities, including the University of York and York St John University, for the end of this month.

Lecturers at both York universities will be striking from Monday 25th to Friday 29th of September, coinciding with the first week of this coming semester.

The previous marking and assessment boycott which has been ongoing since Thursday 20th April has also officially ended.

The University College Union is striking over low pay and working conditions. Their demands include an above-inflation pay award to “start addressing pay which has fallen in real terms by a quarter since 2009”.

The UCU’s General Secretary Jo Grady said: “We are left with no option but to strike during the start of term because our members refuse to stand by while pay is eroded and staff are shunted onto gig-economy contracts.

“It is shameful that vice-chancellors still refuse to settle the dispute despite a year of unprecedented disruption, and have instead imposed a pay award that staff overwhelmingly rejected. Universities are richer than ever, generating tens of billions of pounds in income and hoarding billions more in cash deposits. But they won’t give staff their fair share, a pay award of five per cent is a huge real-terms pay cut and is substantially lower than school teachers received.”

This action follows the end of the marking and assessment boycott, which caused disruption to graduating and progressing students at the end of the last academic year. Speaking to the York Tab, a representative of York’s UCU branch described the action as a “severe step to take”, however after 15 years of dispute over pay, workload, contracts and pay gaps, he said that members “just don’t think the sector will exist as it does now in 10 years time. We’ve reached a tipping point”.

In June, Uni of York’s vice-chancellor, Charlie Jeffery, released a joint statement with York UCU, calling for negotiations to bring the marking and assessment boycott to an end. He spoke of the need to “break out of the cycle” of industrial conflict and “get back to meaningful negotiations”. In the article he acknowledged that ongoing industrial conflict had been “debilitating for staff, compromising welfare and career opportunities, and damaging to a generation of students already deeply impacted by Covid-19”.

The UCU have now voted to officially end the marking and assessment boycott, which started on the 20th April, meaning that all previously unmarked work (including those of graduated students) will now be marked.

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