UCU strikes: University staff go on strike today with more on the way as pay and pension dispute rages on

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The strike action by some 70,000 university staff across the country is set to continue until Wednesday.

Some 70,000 university staff from 150 universities across the UK are on strike  today (March 20), the first of three planned walkouts this week by the University and College Union (UCU).

Lecturers are among those who are absent from work as a pay, contract, and pension dispute rages on. Strikes are also scheduled for Tuesday (March 21) and Wednesday (March 22) - marking the seventh week of strike action by higher education workers.

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This comes after the union’s higher education committee resolved last week to continue action rather than put the latest employer proposals to a vote of its members. Previously, a group of five higher education trade unions, including the UCU, had said a deal with Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) had been reached.

The agreement covered “terms of reference for detailed negotiations”, including “a review of the UK higher education pay spine, workload, contract types and equality pay gaps”. However, hopes of reaching a deal were later quashed by the UCU’s higher education committee.

Raj Jethwa, Universities and Colleges Employers Association chief executive, told Sky News the agreement “reflected the employers’ genuine desire to positively reset industrial relations in our sector.”

He added: “There is a tangible offer on the table from employers to negotiate on the issues at the heart of this dispute.”

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On continuing the strike, Jo Grady, UCU secretary general said last Friday (March 17): “You will know we concluded negotiations this week with both UCEA and USS. We then asked members their view in an e-ballot. An astonishing 36,000 members voted with over two thirds wanting a vote on the proposals and a pause in strikes to do so.

“The branch delegates meeting marginally supported putting the proposals out to vote but also voted to continue action. Today the HEC has voted to continue action and also not to put the proposals out for members to vote on. This means the strike next week continues.”

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