By Jack Taylor & Tom Mitchell
The University and College Union (UCU) has today announced that 74 universities, including Durham, will again experience strike action at the end of the month.
The strikes will begin on February 20th and will escalate each week, culminating in a week-long walk out from Monday March 9th.
Durham University has already faced action this academic year, with UCU members taking part in industrial action from November 25th until December 4th.
Disputes centre around two issues, the first being the sustainability of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) and its rising cost of members. Changes to the scheme since 2011 have sparked action after analysis showed a typical union member will pay around £40,000 more into their pension but receive almost £200,000 less in retirement .
The UCU is also striking over universities failure to make “significant improvements” on pay, equality, casualisation and workloads.
The union also warned it would ballot members after this wave of strikes if the disputes could not be resolved, to ensure branches could take action until the end of the academic year. Strike mandates are only legally valid for six months, so branches who walked out in November would need to secure a fresh mandate to be able to continue to take action after April.
The full strike dates are as follows:
Week one – Thursday 20 & Friday 21 February
Week two – Monday 24, Tuesday 25 & Thursday 26 February
Week three – Monday 2, Tuesday 3, Wednesday 4 & Thursday 5 March
Week four – Monday 9, Tuesday 10, Wednesday 11, Thursday 12 & Friday 13 March
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: ‘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.
‘We have been clear from the outset that we would take serious and sustained industrial action if that was what was needed. As well as the strikes starting later this month, we are going to ballot members to ensure that we have a fresh mandate for further action to cover the rest of the academic year if these disputes are not resolved.’
Durham University and Durham UCU have been approached for comment.
Featured Image by Tim Packer