UCLan staff join UK-wide university strike over pay and conditions
UCLan staff today join universities across the UK in a five-day strike over pay and conditions.
Staff at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) shot down tools today (Monday February 21) in a dispute over pay and working conditions, with demands including a pay rise of £2.5,000 for all university employees.
The strike lasts for five days – today and tomorrow (Tuesday February 22) and from Monday February 28 to Wednesday March 2, with staff picketing from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. outside the Engineering Innovation Center on Place de l ‘University.
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UCU General Secretary Jo Grady said: “The university sector continues to bring in tens of billions of pounds every year.
“But the staff running it have endured 13 years of real-life pay cuts and the indignity of trying to make ends meet on exploitative and precarious contracts.
“The exorbitantly paid Vice-Chancellors have serious questions to answer as to why they have let staff salaries fall by more than 25% since 2009, leaving them more exposed to the cost of living crisis.
“The staff does not ask for the world. They want secure contracts, decent pay and manageable workloads.
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The Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) estimates that staff compensation has fallen by more than a quarter (25.5%) in real terms since 2009.
The University and College Employers Association (UCEA) has refused to back down on its offer of a 1.5% increase in existing salaries for 2021/22.
UCLan and 23 other institutions across the UK join UCU members at 44 universities who left last week after a 35% reduction in their guaranteed retirement income.
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A total of 68 universities have strikes lasting up to 10 days.
Grady said: ‘Instead of listening to their employees’ longstanding concerns, employers have pushed them to the breaking point, and now half are reporting signs of depression.
“During these strikes, student support has been overwhelming. By the thousands they have lobbied their Vice-Chancellors, and we are proud that on Wednesday 2 March they will go on strike across the UK alongside staff.
“It is high time this world-class industry stopped depriving itself of the goodwill and dedication of its people and started treating them with dignity.
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New inflation figures mean the UCU estimates that staff pay has now fallen by more than a quarter in real terms since 2009, with more than 70,000 academics employed on precarious contracts.
The gender pay gap at UK universities is 16%, while the disability pay gap is 9% and the racial pay gap is as high as 17%.
Staff are also going through a crisis of work-related stress, with more than half showing signs of depression.
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Staff on strike over wages and working conditions demand an end to pay inequity linked to race, gender and disability, a framework to eliminate zero hours and other precarious contracts, meaningful action to tackle unmanageable workloads and a pay rise of £2.5,000 for all universities. employees.
Staff are engaged in action outside of a strike (ASOS), which includes working strictly under contract, not covering absent colleagues, not rescheduling classes or classes canceled in because of a strike, or to undertake voluntary activities.
The UCEA has allowed bosses to withhold the wages of staff taking ASOS, with Manchester Metropolitan University saying it will deduct the wages.
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The union said universities could more than afford to meet staff demands.
University figures show the sector’s total revenue to be around £41.9bn, with reserves of £46.8bn.
On average, vice-chancellors have salaries of £269,000 a year.
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The National Union of Students (NUS) is taking action and organizing a student strike on Wednesday 2 March.
The strike dates, with the number of establishments concerned, are:
- Last week: (USS Retirement Conflict Only – 44 Institutions): 5 days; From Monday 14 to Friday 18 February.
- This week: (disputes over pensions and pay and working conditions – 68 institutions): 2 days; Monday 21 and Tuesday 22 February.
- Next week: (wage and working conditions disputes only – 63 establishments): 3 days; Monday February 28, Tuesday March 1 and Wednesday March 2.
A spokesperson for the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) said: “Following national strike votes on wages and conditions, UCU has confirmed that the strike will take place at UCLan for five days. This are: February 21, 22, 28 followed by March 1 and 2. This is due to a national dispute over wages and conditions in the higher education sector, including the 2021/2022 staff compensation award.
“The decision to strike is very disappointing and our concern is above all for our students. They have already gone through a period of considerable uncertainty and disruption due to the pandemic, so we will do everything we can to minimize the impact of the strike by putting contingency plans in place.
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