Lancaster University staff take part in strike action: watch our video from the picket line

Staff at Lancaster University are taking part in 14 days of strikes in the UK’s biggest ever higher education walk outs.

Thursday, 20th February 2020, 1:33 pm
Updated Thursday, 20th February 2020, 1:34 pm

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) at Lancaster University, along with 73 other universities are walking out in two disputes – one over pensions, and another over pay and working conditions.

Strike action started today, Thursday February 20, and runs until Friday March 13.

Lancaster UCU Vice-President and Pensions Officer Sunil Banga said: “It is incredibly frustrating that UCU members are being forced to walk out again to secure fair pay, conditions and pensions.

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Lancaster University.

“This unprecedented level of action shows just how angry staff are at their universities’ refusal to negotiate properly with us.

“If universities want to avoid continued disruption then they need to get their representatives back to the negotiating table with serious options to resolve these disputes.”

Striking staff will be on picket lines at all entrances to the university from 8am, including the main campus entrance off the A6, the Alexandra Park entrance and the cycle path entrance next to Bailrigg House.

A statement from Lancaster University said the institution was committed to achieving “the fairest possible pay and pension for staff, and will continue work to positively influence negotiations at a national level, while recognising that outcomes must be affordable and sustainable for Lancaster University in the long term.”

The spokesman said the dispute was the result of national pay and pension issues, most of which are outside the university’s control.

He added: “This further planned strike action comes at a time when positive national-level talks on the future of pensions, pay and working conditions are making significant progress and are ongoing.

“We particularly regret the impact of this on our students, who have already been through other periods of strike action and on colleagues across the university, who will be working hard to minimise disruption and ensure that students are supported in their studies and assessment.”

“The dispute also centres on equality, employment contracts and workloads, three issues which we take seriously and are actively working to improve. Our new fixed-term contracts and casual working policy is an example of sector-leading change to address casualisation within Higher Education.

We maintain that the best way forward is to work collectively to secure a pension scheme that is highly valued and affordable for all.”

The UCU said that disputes centre around changes to USS pensions and universities’ failure to make improvements on pay, equality, casualisation and workloads.

UCU members at Lancaster were among staff at 60 universities who walked out for eight days of strikes before Christmas.

They will be joined this week by staff at another 14 institutions, as more UCU branches crossed a 50% turnout threshold required by law for them to take industrial action.

The UCU said the number of universities being hit by the action is the largest since a nationwide two-day strike in 2016, while the number of strike days is unprecedented.

Following the eight-day walkout before Christmas, this latest round of 14 strike days means the total number of walkouts will be 22 by March; higher than the previous record of 14 days in 2018.