Three days of strike action to take place at University of Northampton next month

"A resolution to this dispute is simple, but if employers remain intent on slashing pensions and exploiting staff who have kept this sector afloat during a pandemic then campuses will face strike action before Christmas."

Friday, 19th November 2021, 4:58 pm

Strike action is set to take place at the University of Northampton (UoN) next month over pay and working conditions.

The University and College Union (UCU) has confirmed 58 of its members - which includes UoN - will walk out from Wednesday, December 1, Thursday, December 2 and Friday, December 3.

The UCU added that more industrial action is likely next term 'if demands are not met'.

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University of Northampton

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: "Strikes over three consecutive days are set to hit university campuses next month unless employers get round the table and take staff concerns over pension cuts, pay and working conditions seriously.

"UCU has repeatedly asked employers to meet with us to try to resolve these disputes. But while we set out pragmatic solutions that could halt widespread disruption to UK campuses, university bosses refuse to revoke unnecessary, swingeing pension cuts or even to negotiate on issues like casualisation and the unbearably high workloads that blight higher education.

"A resolution to this dispute is simple, but if employers remain intent on slashing pensions and exploiting staff who have kept this sector afloat during a pandemic then campuses will face strike action before Christmas, which will escalate into spring with reballots and further industrial action."

UCU branch chair at UoN Nick Cartwright said: "We are striking for an end to zero-hours Sports Direct style contracts, manageable workloads, a commitment to end pay gaps including the gender pay gap and for a payrise of £2500 for all staff.

"We have over 260 members and new members are joining every day. We expect to be joined by students and colleagues."

A spokesman for the university previously addressed the strike action.

A UoN said: “From a workforce of over 2,000 staff, as few as 116 UCU members at the University of Northampton cast votes in the ballot and only 72 said they are prepared to strike.

"These low turnouts and patchy ballot results have been repeated across the higher education sector, with the union gaining a mandate to strike at just 58 of the 152 institutions it polled.

"As pay is negotiated at the national level — and not by individual universities such as Northampton — the UCU must now seriously reflect on if a small number of staff striking at a minority of universities will realistically force negotiators back to the table to answer demands for a further uplift on top of the above inflation base-pay increases of between 3.6 percent and 1.5 percent that has been offered.

“In truth, the negative impact of a strike will be felt most acutely by students who have already had their education disrupted by the pandemic.

"These students will be the victims of an unrealistic attempt to force all higher education employers to change an outcome that is — for most — already at the very limit of what is affordable.”

National Union of Students national president Larissa Kennedy added: "Students have a rich history of standing shoulder to shoulder with university staff, who have seen their pensions, pay and conditions slashed in recent years.

"With vice chancellors’ average total pay packets rising to £269,000 per year, it’s clear employers can afford to resolve their dispute with UCU over staff pay, which has fallen by an average of 20 percent in real terms since 2009.

"Staff teaching conditions are student learning conditions, and we mustn’t forget many postgraduate students on casualised teaching contracts will be striking. The onus for minimising disruption for students lies with university bosses: they must come back to the table to address the clear issues in how higher education is currently run."

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