UCU to strike consecutive weeks this Epiphany term

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The University and College Union have confirmed that there will be a total of ten days of strikes during February and March, regarding two separate disputes.

The strikes over the Universities Superannuation Service (USS) pension dispute will take place from Monday 14th February and run every day until Friday 18th February.

There will be two further days of strikes on Monday 21st February and Tuesday 22nd February, with staff walking out for both the USS dispute and the Four Fights dispute.

The final three days of striking will commence on Monday 28th February and run until Wednesday 2nd March, based on the Four Fights Dispute.

Durham is one of 68 UK universities to be hit by strike action in February. The final day of strike action on Wednesday 2nd March will coincide with a student strike organised by the NUS.

Members of the Durham UCU participated in strike action back in December over the same two issues, although this term’s action will be on a much longer scale compared to the three-day strike last time.

“We need to make these strikes as effective as possible”

Jo Grady, UCU general sec

The USS pension dispute surrounds proposed cuts to members’ pensions of 35%, which is an ongoing debate. The ‘Four Fights’ dispute meanwhile surrounds calls to resolve “pay inequality, job insecurity, rising workloads and pay devaluation”.

At a meeting for UCU members this evening, hosted on Zoom, UCU general secretary Jo Grady stated that “As a union we have had immense success through collective action.” Ms. Grady argued that “employers are so deeply entrenched”, hence justifying the renewed strike action.

Concluding her speech, the UCU general secretary warned that “my main message is get ready, because we need to make these strikes as effective as possible.”

The UCU website details how pension-based strike action can be avoided – “To resolve the pension dispute UCU is demanding employers revoke the cuts to staff pensions and formally accept UCU’s counter proposals.”

As for the Four Fights dispute the “UCU is demanding a £2.5k pay increase for all staff, as well as action to tackle unmanageable workloads, pay inequality and the use of insecure and exploitative contracts.”

At the time of publication, no has been released by either Durham UCU or the University with regards to this new round of strikes. It is also unclear what the strike action will mean for the threatened marking boycott reportedly set to happen this term as well.

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