At least 150 universities will be impacted by the walkout by no less than 70,000 university employees from the United Kingdom, including lecturers, librarians, and researchers. The strike is over salary, working conditions, and pensions.
According to the BBC, the University and College Union (UCU) claims the strike, which will also occur on Friday and Wednesday next week, will put an end to the sector and potentially disrupt up to 2.5 million students. This strike has been dubbed the largest in the history of UK higher education, and it is expected to be the largest ever.
Unison members who work as university administrators, cleaners, security guards, and caterers will also start a strike over salary at 19 universities.
Jo Grady, the general secretary of the UCU, stated that “Staff are burnt out but they are fighting back and they will put the entire sector to a stop” in the new year unless there is an improved offer from employers.
Vice-chancellors only have themselves to blame, said Grady. The largest vote in favor of strike action in our sector has been sparked by their appalling leadership. Because they understand that this cannot continue, students and staff are standing.
“University personnel have had enough of dropping wages, pension cuts, and gig economy working conditions,” she claims, “all the while vice-chancellors enjoy lottery win incomes.”
She noted that if problems were “handled with urgency,” further disruption may be averted.
According to the BBC, the UCU is calling for an end to zero-hour contracts and temporary employment, as well as measures to address “excessive workloads,” and a salary increase of inflation (RPI) + 2%, or 12%, whichever is higher.
According to reports, the pension conflict has been brewing for more than ten years and was rekindled by what the UCU described as a “flawed” valuation of an academic staff pension plan.
The typical member “will lose 35% from their assured future retirement income,” according to the UCU.
Vice-chancellor of UWE Bristol and President of Universities UK, Prof. Steve West, commented on the issue, saying that the plan “remains one of the most alluring private pension systems in the country.”
“Universities are well equipped to minimise the impact of any industrial action on students’ learning, and we are all working hard to put in place a range of safeguards to achieve this,” Prof. West stated in response to concerns from students about potential future disruption.
Although it is reported that the National Union of Students supports the strikes, some students are worried about missing class.