UPDATE: Eight Days of Strikes at the University of Southampton Announced by UCU

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Following threats of strike action over pension disputes in July, the University and College Union (UCU) have announced an eight-day strike period between Monday 25th November and Wednesday 4th December as part of a protest over rising pension costs, poor working conditions and low pay. The strike will affect sixty universities, with the University of Southampton being one of them. 

In a ballot for UCU members last week, 71% of UCU members at the University of Southampton voted for industrial action over changes to the USS pension schemes, whilst 67% voted for strike action following poor working conditions and rates of pay.

As well as changes to the already-controversial USS pension scheme, members will also be striking as a result of their concerns of  universities’ failures to make improvements on pay, equality, casualisation and workloads.

In addition to the 8-day strike period, UCU members will begin ‘action short of strike’ once they return to work. This includes not rescheduling missed lectures, not covering for sick colleagues and working strictly to contract only.

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.

This latest wave of strike actions comes over a year after a historic 14-day strike hit the University over similar concerns.

UCU have warned institutions to act fast and engage in discussions about what needs to change if they want to prevent any disruption. It remains to be seen if the University will partake in such discussions in order to prevent the strike.

Dr Mary Morrison, President of the Southampton branch of UCU commented:

Taking industrial action is not something that any of us do lightly, but this national vote has given a strong mandate for action. Staff report increased workloads leading to longer and longer working hours, weekend working and increasing stress, as pay and pension expectations have declined.  Working under those conditions your teachers are not going to be able to give their best for you, their students. But strike action is not inevitable, UCU wants meaningful negotiation with the employers to bring about real changes to address these issues.

However, the University seem unwilling to re-engage in negotiations, claiming that recent national changes to the pay and pensions system was enough. A University of Southampton spokesperson said this:

The prospect of local industrial action at Southampton alongside a minority of universities across the country is very disappointing. Our priority is to provide a world-class education for our students and the University will do everything possible to minimise disruption to teaching and learning. We believe that the recent national outcomes on pay and pension contributions deliver the best benefits that can be achieved for both our own employees and for the ongoing financial sustainability of our University. We know that all of our colleagues care deeply about the education of our students and the wider activities of our University, and we will work to mitigate the impact of any action on our community.

A full list of UK universities affected by the strike action from 25th November can also be found below:

  1. Aston University
  2. Bangor University
  3. Cardiff University
  4. University of Durham
  5. Heriot-Watt University
  6. Loughborough University
  7. Newcastle University
  8. The Open University
  9. The University of Aberdeen
  10. The University of Bath
  11. The University of Dundee
  12. The University of Leeds
  13. The University of Manchester
  14. The University of Sheffield
  15. University of Nottingham
  16. The University of Stirling
  17. University College London
  18. The University of Birmingham
  19. The University of Bradford
  20. The University of Bristol
  21. The University of Cambridge
  22. The University of Edinburgh
  23. The University of Exeter
  24. The University of Essex
  25. The University of Glasgow
  26. The University of Lancaster
  27. The University of Leicester
  28. City University
  29. Goldsmiths College
  30. Queen Mary University of London
  31. Royal Holloway
  32. The University of Reading
  33. The University of Southampton
  34. The University of St Andrews
  35. Courtauld Institute of Art
  36. The University of Strathclyde
  37. The University of Wales
  38. The University of Warwick
  39. The University of York
  40. The University of Liverpool
  41. The University of Sussex
  42. The University of Ulster
  43. Queen’s University Belfast
  44. Bishop Grosseteste University
  45. Bournemouth University
  46. Edge Hill University
  47. Glasgow Caledonian University
  48. Glasgow School of Art
  49. Liverpool Hope University
  50. Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts
  51. Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh
  52. St Mary’s University College, Belfast
  53. Roehampton University
  54. Sheffield Hallam University
  55. The University of Brighton
  56. The University of Kent
  57. The University of Oxford
  58. Scottish Association of Marine Science
  59. The University of East Anglia
  60. Institute for Development Studies
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Wessex Scene Editor // meme queen // fan of chocolate digestives // @colombochar on Twitter.

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