Universities in the UK are revving up for the second round of faculty strikes, set to start on Feb 20, 2020 for 14 days as announced by The University and College Union (UCU), which represents both lecturers and non-academic staff.
According to the Telegraph, the strike will affect 74 universities in the UK. In November and December last year, UCU members at 60 universities were involved in a strike that lasted for eight days – affecting around one million students.
The strikes are part of a long-standing row with employers over pay, working conditions and pensions for faculty and staff members at these universities.
Jo Grady, the union’s general secretary, said that further strikes will take place next academic year if the disputes are still not resolved.
“We have seen more members back strikes since the winter walkouts and this next wave of action will affect even more universities and students. If universities want to avoid further disruption they need to deal with rising pension costs, and address the problems over pay and conditions.”
“University staff are not going to be lectured on austerity or the necessity to hold down pay, worsen conditions and increase pension contributions from out of touch vice-chancellors whose own record on pay & perks has shamed the higher education sector.” https://t.co/UtqWlnsn37
— UCU (@ucu) February 16, 2020
The full strike dates are:
- Week one – Thursday Feb 20 & Friday Feb 21
- Week two – Monday Feb 24, Tuesday Feb 25 & Wednesday Feb 26
- Week three – Monday Mar 2, Tuesday Mar 3, Wednesday Mar 4 & Thursday Mar 5
- Week four – Monday Mar 9, Tuesday Mar 10, Wednesday Mar 11, Thursday Mar 12 & Friday Mar 13
The full list of universities affected by strike action can be found here.
- How will the second round of strikes affect students?
According to EnglishForums, some UK students are staging protests over the upcoming strikes as it will cause disruption to their exams and coursework. They are demanding a percentage of their tuition fees to be refunded if the strikes do happen.
An email chain between 70 student union presidents, obtained by The Tab, a student newspaper, has shown that undergraduates from Cardiff university may be unable to graduate if the next round of strikes goes ahead.
Jackie Yip, Cardiff University’s student union president, reportedly said in an email: “Confidentially, further strike action will now mean some of my students will have missed so much content that they will not be able to graduate this year, even if there are mitigating actions put in place.
“We have not told students this as we do not want to cause panic and behind closed doors, I am doing everything I can to protect my students. I am sure this may be the case in some of your Unions.”
A spokesman for Cardiff University said that their main priority is to ensure students receive support during the next round of strikes.
“We continue to work alongside our academic Schools to manage the forthcoming dispute. As part of this work we need to plan for the worst possible outcomes in order to avoid them.”
“We are deeply appreciative of the academics who have supported us in this endeavour and will carefully monitor the situation in the forthcoming weeks of industrial action.
“We continue to urge UCU to engage constructively with on-going and continued discussions in order to avoid further strike action.”
The National Union of Students (NUS UK) supports UCU’s strike action.
In a tweet, NUS UK Vice President of Higher Education Claire Sosienski Smith urged students to write to their university to resume talks with UCU. The union has provided a template where students can easily write to their university’s vice-chancellor to “seek a resolution through national negotiations with UCU in order to enable me to get the education that I deserve”.
All students!! You can use @ucu‘s template to (very quickly and easily) write to your university to let them know that they must resume talks with UCU if they care about our education #UCUstrikes #FourFights https://t.co/37JuU0gare
— Claire Support-the-UCU-Strike (@CLAIRESOS) February 14, 2020