STAFF at 74 universities across the length and breadth of the country and in the north of Ireland are to strike in February and March, their union the UCU announced yesterday.
The action will start on Thursday 20 February and escalate each week, culminating with a week-long walkout from Monday 9th to Friday 13 March.
The disputes centre on the sustainability of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) and rising costs for members, and on universities’ failure to make significant improvements on pay, equality, casualisation and workloads.
The full strike dates are:
Week one – Thursday 20 & Friday 21 February;
Week two – Monday 24, Tuesday 25 & Thursday 26 February;
Week three – Monday 2nd, Tuesday 3rd, Wednesday 4th & Thursday 5th March
Week four – Monday 9th, Tuesday 10, Wednesday 11, Thursday 12 & Friday 13 March.
UCU members at 60 universities walked out for eight days in November and December last year in action that affected around one million students. This next wave of strikes will affect another 14 universities and an additional 200,000 students, as more UCU branches crossed a 50% turnout threshold required by law for them to take industrial action.
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.
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.’