Union announces 14 days of strikes at local Universities

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Members of the Universities and College Union (UCU) at 74 UK universities – including staff at Southampton and Winchester – will walk out between Thursday 20 February and Friday 13 March.

UCU members at the University of Southampton were among staff at 60 universities who walked out for eight days of strikes before Christmas. They will be joined in February by staff at another 14 institutions, as more UCU branches crossed a 50% turnout threshold required by law for them to take industrial action.

The disputes centre on the sustainability of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) and rising costs for members, and on universities’ failure to make significant improvements on pay, equality, casualisation and workloads.

The union also warned it would ballot members after this wave of strikes, if the disputes could not be resolved, to ensure branches could take action until the end of the academic year. Strike mandates are only legally valid for six months, so branches who walked out in November would need to secure a fresh mandate to be able to continue to take action after April.

As well as up to 14 strike days, union members are undertaking “action short of a strike”. This involves things like working strictly to contract, not covering for absent colleagues and refusing to reschedule lectures lost to strike action.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said:

“If universities want to avoid further disruption, they need to deal with rising pension costs, and address the problems over pay and conditions.

‘We have been clear from the outset that we would take serious and sustained industrial action if that was what was needed. As well as the strikes later this month, we are going to ballot members to ensure that we have a fresh mandate for action to continue until the end of the academic year if these disputes are not resolved.”