Strikes are set to begin on Thursday 20th February, in two weeks time joe cook

The University and College Union (UCU) this afternoon announced that 74 UK universities, including the University of Cambridge, will see a new round of strike action this term, totalling 14 days.

The industrial action will take place over the course of four weeks, starting with two days from Thursday, 20th February and escalating by a further day of striking each week until Friday, 13th March.

The strike dates will be:

  • Thursday 20th & Friday 21st February
  • Monday 24th, Tuesday 25th, & Wednesday 26th February
  • Monday 2nd, Tuesday 3rd, Wednesday 4th, & Thursday 5th March
  • Monday 9th, Tuesday 10th, Wednesday 11th, Thursday 12th & Friday 13th March

The strikes follow eight days of strikes last term, and come as university staff annual contributions to the USS pension schemes increased by 1.6% since April last year while real-term salaries have sunk 17% since 2009, according to analysis by the Universities and Colleges Employers Association.

The dispute also centres around concerns around equality, the casualisation of education and increasing staff workloads.


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University staff are set to strike next week. What does that mean?

14 additional universities will take part in February and March’s round of strikes than those last term, affecting an estimated 200,000 more students, according to UCU.

UCU has warned if demands are not met, it will ballot the trade union’s members again, for further strike action. By law strike mandates end after six months, so this would permit staff to take industrial action in the months following April, with the potential for disruption during exams.

“We have been clear from the outset that we would take serious and sustained industrial action if that was what was needed,” said UCU general secretary Jo Grady.

“If universities want to avoid further disruption they need to deal with rising pension costs, and address the problems over pay and conditions.”

Speaking to Varsity, a University spokesperson said the institution “respects the right of UCU members to take industrial action, and recognises that those who strike will not take a decision to do so lightly.”

“We have heard people’s concerns, and are committed to working with our unions at Cambridge to stand up for staff pensions and improve remuneration and working practices.”

They further stressed “the University, its faculties, departments and other institutions, will do everything they can to mitigate any disruption to students’ education.”

University staff will also continue to participate in ‘Action Short of Strike’, which they have done since last term’s action. This means staff work only strictly to contract, will not reschedule lectures nor cover for absent colleagues.

“We’re excited to see this new round of strikes, with new focus and energy – and this time, we’re making demands,” said a spokesperson from Cambridge Defend Education (CDE), the staff-student coalition which fights for the empowerment of education.

“We’re demanding that Cambridge University recognise UCU now - and take concrete actions internally as well as feeding into the national dispute. While our staff are underpaid, overworked and still not represented in the University’s official channels, our education only suffers.”

CDE has levelled six demands at the University during this term’s strikes, including that no disciplinary action should be taken against students and staff supporting the industrial action.

In full What are CDE's demands during this term's strikes?

1. The University of Cambridge should officially recognise Cambridge UCU

2. The Vice Chancellor - Stephen Toope - should issue a public statement, calling on national employers’ bodies UUK and UCEA to meet UCU’s demands listed below

3. The University of Cambridge should outline its plans to meet the UCU demands Stephen Toope should hold an open meeting with students and staff to discuss issues important to them

4. No attendance monitoring

5. No disciplinary action for students or staff

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The CDE spokesperson urged students to “stay tuned for escalated demands, escalated tactics, and the biggest picket lines Cambridge has ever seen.”