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New UCU strike dates announced for March

Staff at the University of Edinburgh will strike again from Monday March 21 to Friday March 25, over pension cuts, working conditions and pay.  

This new strike action comes after 10 days of strikes in February.

The University and College Union (UCU) announced last Friday that universities will face more  strikes before Easter, with strikes at Edinburgh to take place from Monday March 21 to Friday March 25. Strikes nationwide will take place at 68 universities from March 21 to April 1. 

University staff have stated that they are striking due to the Vice Chancellor failing to meet demands over pay, pensions and working conditions, despite the university recording large profits. 

On February 22, universities passed pension cuts, meaning that staff will see a 35 per cent reduction in their guaranteed retirement income. 

UCU estimated that staff pay is down by 25.5 per cent in real terms since 2009. There is a 15.1 per  cent gender pay gap, a 17 per cent pay gap between black and white staff and a 9 per cent disability pay gap. 

UCU found that 68 per cent of research academics are on fixed-term contracts. Staff report being overworked and underpaid, with 86 per cent of staff having to receive mental health support as a result of their workload.

UCU members have asked for employers to revoke cuts, end race, gender and disability pay injustice, eliminate casual contracts, tackle large workloads and implement a pay rise for all university employees. 

Over a million students nationwide will be affected by the strikes. Participating staff members will not be giving classes or lectures, and may remove or not upload materials online. Assessment feedback may be affected, and concerned students are advised to contact their personal tutors. 

A spokesperson for the University of Edinburgh told The Student

“We know that this ongoing situation is causing disruption and concern for our students and we will continue to do everything we can to ensure that the impact on learning and teaching is minimised. 

“We have created a Learning Opportunity Fund for students significantly impacted by strike action. Students can apply for learning opportunities of most kinds, including conferences, short courses, online courses and part-payment of longer or more expensive opportunities. This is funded from the salary foregone by those choosing to take part in industrial action.   

“The ongoing action is part of a national campaign and we are working with all appropriate groups, including UCU representatives, to find a long-term, responsible outcome to this ongoing challenge.”

Image courtesy of Magnus Hagdorn via Flickr.