Image: flickr / Magnus Hagdorn

Queen’s and Ulster Universities expect further strikes

Queen’s University (QUB) and Ulster University (UU) are set to tackle 10 days of strike action by employees in February and March. 

The Open University in Northern Ireland is also likely to be affected. 

The action is being taken by the University and College Union (UCU) over issues regarding wages, working conditions, and retirement benefits. According to the union, 50,000 employees at 68 universities across the UK are expected to strike.

This comes after a three-day walkout in December 2021, a 14-day strike in February 2020, and eight days throughout November and December 2019. 

The strikes will occur from 14-18 February and on 21 and 22 February. Three further days of planned strikes will happen from 28 February to 2 March. 

It is unknown how many lectures will be cancelled or how many employees will be involved at QUB and UU, since union members are not required to notify the university ahead of time if they want to strike. 

The UCU said in a recent statement that staff were at “breaking point after a decade of cuts to pensions, falling pay, and worsening working conditions”. 

The pay and working conditions dispute is over a 20% real term pay cut over the past 12 years

– UCU

 

“In pensions, proposals from employers mean staff face a 35% cut to their guaranteed retirement income,” they said. “The pay and working conditions dispute is over a 20% real term pay cut over the past 12 years, unmanageable workloads, pay inequality, and the use of exploitative and insecure contracts, which are rife across the sector.” 

According to the union, universities could put a stop to the disruption by making a “positive investment in staff for the first time in over a decade: in wages, pay equality, secure jobs, and manageable workloads”. They predict that if the conflict is not settled, there may be a boycott of grading and assessments later in the term. 

Universities UK (UUK), which represents numerous universities, has formerly stated that the opinions of the majority of staff are not represented by the strikes.

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