1. ITV Report

Lecturers to strike for eight days over pay, working conditions and pensions

The planned strikes are for similar reasons to those held in February 2018 Credit: ITV Anglia

Staff at the universities of Essex, Cambridge and the UEA have warned of pre-Christmas disruption, after voting to strike later this month.

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) will walk out for eight working days from 25 November, alongside colleagues from 60 institutions nationwide.

They are protesting proposed changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) - a pension scheme - as well as pay and working conditions.

Of the UCU members at Cambridge, 81% voted for strikes over pension changes, while 76% supported action over pay and conditions. At Essex those figures were 84% and 77% respectively.

Staff at the University of Essex will walk out for eight working days Credit: ITV Anglia

Jo Grady, UCU General Secretary, said: "Strike action is a last resort, but staff have made it quite clear that enough is enough and universities can be in no doubt about the strength of feeling.

"The first wave of strikes will hit institutions later this month unless universities start talking to us seriously about how they are going to deal with rising pension costs and declining pay and conditions."

The strikes will echo those held in February 2018 for similar reasons. The UCU have also warned that further action could take place once their members return after the strike, such as sticking to contracted hours and refusing to cover for absent colleagues.

The body which represents higher education institutions, Universities UK, say they hope to deal with the situation before 25 November.

“We are hopeful that the dispute can be resolved without industrial action; but plans are in place to ensure that any potential disruption to students and staff is minimised.

"The resolution to the 2018 USS valuation is both fair and reasonable, with the additional costs of maintaining the current level of benefits shared 65:35 by employers and scheme members.

“It’s important to note that the number of UCU members who voted for strike action over pensions accounts for less than 10% of the active membership of USS.

“We are committed to ensuring USS remains one of the very best pension schemes in the country, and hope that UCU will now join us to consider governance reforms and alternative options for future valuations, which deliver a shared set of principles, increased transparency and a sustainable scheme.”

– Universities UK statement

The strikes are planned to end on Wednesday, 4 December, the final week of term at Cambridge and the penultimate week at Essex and the UEA.