Resistance from University likely to continue
The students’ union has called on university management to start negotiating with support staff over pensions. Laura Tazzioli, USSU President, said the union would hold management responsible for any future disruption caused by strikes.
Unite, the technicians’ union, called off its last two scheduled strike days to allow mediators to arrange talks with management. But the union said it was ready to escalate strike action if management continue to refuse to negotiate over changes to pensions.
“University lecturers have paid for recessions in the past; they are not going to pay for this one”
Last Friday the support staff unions held their third rally this term calling for equal treatment. The University has told support staff their final salary pension scheme will be closed to new starters, while academic staff retain theirs.
Ms Tazzioli said, “If senior management want the best for students then they should treat their staff fairly.”
The strikes come in the context of increasing levels of tension between workers and employers as companies try to shield themselves from the impact of the global financial crisis.
The next round of national negotiations over lecturers’ pay could be a flash point. The lecturers’ union UCU is expected to ask for a pay increase of at least 2% above inflation. But Philip Harding, chair of the British Universities Finance Directors Group, has told the Times Higher Education magazine that lecturers should expect what he called “nil uplift.”
Malcolm Keight, UCU’s national head of higher education countered, “University lecturers have paid for recessions in the past; they are not going to pay for this one.”
UCU are expected to decide the exact level of pay increase they will be asking for at a conference this Friday.
At the time of going to print, Unite had no further days of strike action scheduled. By law they must give the University seven days’ notice of strikes.