Winchester Uni hit by strikes

"Some lecturers have to work part-time in bars to make up income"

Lecturers at the University of Winchester took part in a nationwide strike this morning as members of the University and College Union (UCU) commenced a 14-day strike. This strike represents the largest ever of its kind in the UK, as Winchester joins 73 other universities where staff are disputing issues such as fair pay and workloads.

Over 75% of Winchester UCU members voted in support of the strike, having only reached just below the 50% threshold for the last one at the end of November.

The main issue of concern is casualisation, with zero-hour contracts becoming more common amongst staff who are also displeased over pay inequalities and a gender pay gap.

Other key issues include changes to pensions and excessive workloads, combined with an average pay drop of 17% since 2009.

Marika Rose, a senior lecturer in Philosophical Theology told Eastleigh News:

“In my department we are relying on hourly paid lecturers more and more, and the amount that they are paid doesn’t cover the time that it takes to teach university classes, some staff are even having to work in bars and pubs part-time to make up their income.”

UCU members from Winchester later joined striking colleagues at the University of Southampton who were due to hold a rally on Southampton’s Highfield Campus.

The University of Winchester issued a statement saying:

“We are surprised and disappointed that this action is being proposed. Our highest priority is always to ensure that we meet our commitments to our students.

As a University, we care deeply about the education of all our students and our wider activities, and we are committed to minimising the impact of any industrial action on our students and community.”

 Mick Jardine, a lecturer in English Literature at Winchester, said:

“We are fighting on behalf of our students, on behalf of our education in this country, and we are sure that our action will produce the result that we want.”

The strikes are proposed to continue until Friday 13 March.

Additional reporting and video production by James Johnston