UCU members at around 500 colleges and universities across the UK will be on strike tomorrow (Thursday) in a row over changes to their pension and pay cuts: the first UK-wide strike action in universities for five years and in colleges since 2008.
UCU members will walk out over plans for greater pension contributions from staff and an increase in the pension age, against a backdrop of a second consecutive real-terms annual pay cut. Staff will be on picket lines at institutions throughout the country with many branches joining together to hold regional rallies in cities such as Leeds, Liverpool, Cardiff, Manchester, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Birmingham and Newcastle.
UCU members' action is part of the first UK-wide strike action in universities for five years and the first in further education colleges since 2008. The union has received the support of the National Union of Students, despite the likely disruption to their members' studies.
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'University and college staff really value their pension rights and have made their views of the detrimental changes crystal clear. Strike action is always a last resort but the attacks on pensions and pay have created real anger and, instead of burying their heads in the sand, the employers need to respond urgently to our concerns.
'Staff are sick to the back teeth of being told that their pay and pensions need to be cut to pay for an economic crisis created by others.'
The UK-wide action comes on top of four days' strike action* at 67 UK universities across the UK in a row over pensions. UCU members at those 67 universities are members of the Universities Superannuation Scheme. They are on strike again tomorrow (Thursday) and will be joined by their colleagues in the rest of the UK's universities and also in further education colleges, who are members of the Teachers' Pension Scheme.
* UK strike action in the last week has taken place in universities where UCU members are members of the USS scheme: Scottish universities on Thursday 17 March; Welsh universities on Friday 18 March; Northern Irish universities on Monday 21 March; and English universities on Tuesday 22 March.
We on this blog would just like to publisise this strike and make people aware why they are striking and to add their support. Fora ll students who cannot remove their labour should if they can stand with their lectuers and other staff members taking strike action if they can. Already this week i have seen on twitter many universities going into occupation which means holding a room or a area of a school, college or university where UCU members will be striking and offering lots of solidarity to their teachers and staff who look after them so well. I think this is a really important strike one of many i hope in the public sector over the next year or so to take on this retchid right wing government. I do call for more militant action from unions and i hope rank-and-file can put pressure on the leadership to ballot for strikea action as this is a good way to achieve things.
I myself will be trying to get down to my local college in my town to stand on the picket line with others there to offer solidarity and shighlight the importance of striking and offering support. I hope readers of this blog can do the same too.