As many UK university staff begin their fourth week of striking over the end of the defined benefit aspect of their pension schemes, it has become apparent that some universities will be affected by the strikes over exam periods.
Thus far, talks to resolve the dispute have been unsuccessful, triggering a fresh wave of industrial action.
The union’s higher education committee has issued a further 14 days of strikes, which are likely to take place between April and June, the exam period for most UK universities.
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, stated in a press release: “I want to stress that I consider all this a necessary precaution against the failure of talks to deliver an acceptable settlement.
“The union would prefer dialogue and I have given my personal commitment to Acas (the conciliation service through which the negotiations are occurring) that UCU is serious about reaching an agreement. However, if talks fail, we are prepared to carry out the action in defence of our pensions.”
Whether or not the additional days of striking will go ahead, depends on the outcome of talks between Universities UK and UCU.
In other strike-related developments, the University of Edinburgh has been criticised for trying to “break the pensions strike with out-of-date recorded lectures”.
In an email sent out to law lecturers, the law school has asked staff to make available recordings of past lectures that students will miss as a consequence of industrial action.
Commenting on the issue, UCU Scotland official, Mary Senior, remarked: “It’s bad enough that the new principal at Edinburgh has sat on his hands and not taken steps to resolve the dispute over cuts to his employees’ pensions until now, but it’s quite another thing for Edinburgh University to be proactively taking steps to break the strike in this underhand way.
“Students deserve the full attention of lecturers and not out of date recordings […] If the university doesn’t stop using these recordings, they’re letting down both their staff and students.”
Photo by Andrew Perry