University staff to strike for 3 days this semester
Following the meeting of representatives from University and College Union (UCU) branches across the UK last Friday 12 November, the UCU announced their strike dates.
The strikes are set to be held from Wednesday 1 December to Friday 3 December, lasting a total of three days, meaning that students will face disruption to their teaching this semester.
A total of 58 university branches are participating in the strikes, including the University of Edinburgh.
Edinburgh, Durham, King’s College London, St Andrews, Cambridge, and London School of Economics are some of the 33 institutions striking over both pay and pensions while other universities, for example Edinburgh Napier, University of Arts London, and Manchester, are striking over pay only.
Only four universities are striking over pensions: the Institute of Development Studies, Imperial College London, University of Bath, University of Reading.
Speaking to The Student about the decision to strike, UCU Edinburgh said:
“Cuts to pensions, pay, and support services hurt staff and students alike as employers continue to prioritise extracting revenue over investing in education.
“No one wants more disruptions, but the ball is now squarely in the employer's court to get back around the negotiating table and prevent this current round of strike action.”
UCU Edinburgh have previously argued that "under the current proposals for changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), members stand to lose up to 35% of their pensions."
Their independent investigation into the university’s finances revealed that the University of Edinburgh has continued to make significant profits throughout the pandemic, with Vice Principal Gavin McLachlan additionally citing ‘covid underspend’ as one of the factors for the university’s high profit margins in 2021.
Despite this financial surplus, UCU Edinburgh revealed that 70 per cent of current university staff are employed on a casualised contract basis that disproportionately affects women, disabled people, and people of colour.
Commenting on the announcement of strike dates for this semester, a spokesperson for the University of Edinburgh said:
“We realise this situation causes additional concern for students and we will do everything we can to ensure that the impact of any action on learning and teaching is minimised.
“We must also maintain academic standards so that students are not disadvantaged when progressing to the next year or when graduating.
“All students will be emailed shortly with guidance, including details of the steps being taken by the university to mitigate the consequences of disruption.
“We are committed to helping our colleagues save and plan for retirement and we, along with other members of USS, need to support the current pensions scheme to be strong and sustainable, with a long-term future, which is affordable both for individuals and employers.
“We will continue to work with all appropriate groups, including UCU representatives, to find a long-term, responsible outcome to this ongoing challenge and would encourage USS members to respond to the current member consultation.”