Essex University campus set to be hit by strike action

The University of Essex will be hit with eight days of strike action from Monday November 25 through to Wednesday December 4, the University and College Union (UCU) announced this week.

Last week UCU members backed strike action in ballots over both pensions, and pay and working conditions.

The results mean that UCU members at 60 UK universities can take strike action later this month.

The union said universities had to respond positively and quickly if they wanted to avoid disruption before Christmas. The disputes centre on changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) and universities’ failure to make improvements on pay, equality, casualisation and workloads.

As well as the eight strike days, union members will begin “action short of a strike” when they return to work. This involves things like working strictly to contract, not covering for absent colleagues and refusing to reschedule lectures lost to strike action.

At the University of Essex, 84 per cent of voting members backed strikes over changes to USS pensions and 77 per cent backed strikes over pay and conditions.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “Strike action is a last resort, but staff have made it quite clear that enough is enough and universities can be in no doubt about the strength of feeling.

“The first wave of strikes will hit institutions later this month unless universities start talking to us seriously about how they are going to deal with rising pension costs and declining pay and conditions.”

Last year, university campuses were brought to a standstill by unprecedented levels of strike action. Last month, shadow education secretary Angela Rayner called on both sides to get around the table for urgent talks.

She said she fully supported UCU members fighting for fair pay and decent pensions and called on both sides to work together to find solutions to the disputes.

Mick Ferris

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