Two Lancashire universities to be hit by strike action

Two Lancashire universities will be hit by walk-outs next week as part of a long-running nationwide dispute over pay and conditions.

Tuesday, 3rd December 2019, 12:12 pm
Staff at Lancaster University begin eight days of strike action on Monday

Lancaster University and Edge Hill University will be hit with eight days of strike action from Monday (November 25) after no agreement could be reached between university representatives and the University and College Union (UCU) over pensions, pay and working conditions.

Striking staff will be on picket lines at all entrances to Lancaster University from 8am, including the main campus entrance off the A6, the Alexandra Park entrance and the cycle path entrance next to Bailrigg House.

Earlier this week, UCU accused universities of playing games after their representatives refused to even discuss pay. The union said things were no better at talks over changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), where their representatives failed to make a serious offer.

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Last month, 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* are walking out on Monday.

At Lancaster, 84 per cent of UCU members polled voted for strikes over changes to USS pensions and 79 per cent backed strikes over pay and conditions. The disputes centre on changes to USS pensions and universities’ failure to make improvements on pay, equality, casualisation and workloads. At Edge Hill University, 75 per cent of members polled backed strikes.

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

UCU Lancaster University vice-president and pensions officer Sunil Banga said: “Strike action is a last resort, but universities’ refusal to deal with these key issues have left us with no alternative. It is staggering and insulting that universities have not done more to work with us to try and find a way to resolve these disputes

“We hope students will continue to put pressure on university vice-chancellors to get their representatives back round the negotiating table for serious talks with the union.”

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner has called on both sides to get round the table for talks and the National Union of Students says students stand shoulder to shoulder with staff in the disputes.