Everything you need to know about the UCU Strike Action
Universities across the UK, including Warwick, have been hit suddenly by the University and College Union (UCU) strike action recently, meaning that many students are missing out on crucial contact time with their tutors. The dispute is over a proposal to axe the guaranteed pension for thousands of university staff, with a typical UCU member’s retirement income being reduced by £10,000 a year if these cuts to the pension fund are imposed. This has led to a last resort vote to take legal strike action, as university staff feel that they have no choice in the matter. UCU initially called 14 days of strike action which will begin for many on the 22nd February 2018 and will continue throughout the following weeks, or until a negotiations can come to a compromise.
The amount of disruption the strike action will cause differs between universities and departments, so it is best to keep in touch and ask them directly for details of any schedule changes and most departments are sending out updates of any changes via email. Furthermore, any member of staff planning to go on strike does not have to tell their employer in advance of the date when action begins as this will enable them to minimise any disruption the action is aimed to cause. This means that many students are still unsure as to whether they will miss out on any lectures, seminars or meetings with specific tutors. There are also no exemptions from having to take industrial action and all UCU members employed at the institutions affected are asked to take action. Tutors are also not encouraged to reschedule lectures or classes that are cancelled due to the strikes as this too would dilute the impact of the original strike action.
It is important to remember that although this is a dispute between the lecturers and university management, students are the ones missing out and the strikes seem to affect us the most, with the cancellation of lectures we pay £9,000 a year for. However, our university staff do not want to strike, they want better higher education standards and a decent pension for all their hard work, and we should not direct our anger towards them. In fact, if we want the strikes to end as swiftly as possible, it is actually more beneficial for us to spread the word and support our lecturers in their decision to strike. You can get in touch with your university’s UCU office and join your lecturers to protest on the picket lines, and you can email your university’s vice-chancellor asking for a refund of the lectures you have missed due to the strikes as you have paid for a service that has not been delivered to you.
Thanks for reading!Kristie