Lancaster University staff to strike on student open day

Lancaster UniversityLancaster University
Lancaster University
Staff at Lancaster University will go on strike during an open day for prospective students and their parents.

The University and College Union (UCU) staff will take part in a wave of nationwide strikes in a row over pay and conditions on Saturday July 9.

Union members will lobby students and parents as they arrive to explain more about their campaign for fair pay and better conditions.

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UCU members will be on picket lines on campus at Alexandra Park and the sports centre from 8am, and will have a stall up in Alexandra Square to speak to students and parents.

Lancaster University said it was working hard to ensure Saturday’s open day is a success, and is “making every effort to mitigate any negative impact”.

This is the third time UCU members have been on strike this year in the pay row.

It follows a National Union of Teachers (NUT) strike on Tuesday, July 5, when hundreds of teachers, parents, and children marched through Lancaster in protest against cuts to school budgets.

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The UCU dispute has arisen following a pay offer of just 1.1 per cent from the universities’ employers, the Universities and Colleges Employers Association. UCU said universities can afford to pay more and the offer did little to address the real-terms pay cut of 14.5 per cent that members have had since 2009.

The UCU says the squeeze on staff salaries comes despite vice-chancellors enjoying a 6.1 per cent pay hike.

UCU local representative, Rory Daly, said: “Our targeted strike action is a result of the employers’ failure to deal with the declining real-terms pay of university staff, or tackle the problems of growing numbers of casual contracts and the persistent gender pay gap.

“Members have been left with no alternative but to take this action.”

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The union has also called for universities to commit to closing the gender pay gap and reducing the proportion of staff on casual contracts.

On average, female academics are paid £6,103 less a year than their male counterparts, while 49 per cent of university teachers are on insecure contracts.

Since 2010 the amount spent on staff by universities as a percentage of total income has dropped by 3 per cent.

However, the total of cash reserves has rocketed by 72 per cent to stand at over £21bn, the UCU said.

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A spokeswoman for Lancaster University said: “UCU have rejected a final offer for 2016/17 of a 1.1 per cent uplift in base pay for all, (a real terms increase at more than triple the current official inflation level, which with progression pay brings the average increase to 2.7%) plus higher increases for lower-paid staff.

“As a result there has been a programme of protest action across many universities, which have included targeting Open Days.

“Lancaster is just one of a number of universities which have been selected. Staff at the University have been working very hard to ensure that Saturday’s open day is a success for all our visitors to Lancaster, and the University is making every effort to mitigate any negative impact, and we are pleased that this action so far has caused minimal disruption to our students.

“The University remains committed to the pay negotiation process and is continuing to influence and inform national negotiations with UCU through the Universities and Colleges Employers Association.

“In addition we are working constructively with our local trade union colleagues.”