University staff warned of ‘damaging impact’ strikes could have on students
Planned strikes by university staff could have a damaging effect on students, employers have warned.
More than 70,000 staff at 150 universities across the UK will strike for 18 days between February and March in disputes over pay, conditions and pensions.
The University and College Union (UCU) said the precise dates of the action will be confirmed next week.
The union will also re-ballot staff at all 150 universities to renew its mandate and allow industrial action to be called well into 2023, including a marking and assessment boycott from April, unless the disputes are settled.
UCU said “the clock is ticking” for university bosses to avoid widespread disruption this year.
Raj Jethwa, chief executive of the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), said: “The fact that UCU is not calling indefinite strike action is welcome, but their revised strike plans could still have a damaging impact on students.
“UCU needs to provide its members with a realistic and fair assessment of what is achievable, before giving them the chance to accept or refuse the highest HE pay offer made in nearly 20 years.
“UCEA’s offer would mean an uplift of up to 7%, with a minimum of 5% for anyone earning up to £51,000.
“The structure of our offer recognises that cost-of-living pressures fall disproportionately on the lower paid staff.
“Despite unprecedented financial pressures also faced by employers, from rising running costs to tuition fee freezes, they have all remained committed to implementing a proportion of this award from February.
“This is six months early as a direct response to current cost-of-living concerns. While employers have a great deal of sympathy with staff coping with financial pressures, none could offer a pay award that would get close to current levels of inflation.
“We hope that our proposals will be recognised as a genuine attempt by employers to address cost-of-living pressures.
“We ask that the trade unions consult their members over this pay offer and we look forward to discussing details at the next scheduled meeting on Monday.”
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