University of Essex staff to strike in late November and early December
As many of you will have heard, the University and College Union (UCU), whose members include lecturers and staff at the University of Essex, has announced that it will be taking strike action between 25th November and 4th December.
Essex will be one of 60 universities in the UK to be affected, with the eight days of strikes set to be followed by other forms of industrial action including working strictly to contract, not covering for absent colleagues and refusing to reschedule lectures lost to strike action.
The strikes were agreed in a UCU ballot on 31st October, in which 79% of participating members voted in favour of strike action in relation to two separate disputes on pensions and pay.
Why have UCU members decided to strike?
The disputes centre on changes to university pensions and universities' failure to make improvements on pay, equality, casualisation and workloads.
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'The first wave of strikes will hit universities later this month unless the employers start talking to us seriously about how they are going to deal with rising pension costs and declining pay and conditions’.
Last year staff at a number of Universities, including Essex, undertook strike action in relation to pensions. UCU has said that it is frustrated that members had to be balloted again, but that universities' refusal to deal with their concerns had left them with no choice.
What's the SU's position on the strikes?
As the Students' Union's elected full-time officers we support the position taken by Essex's UCU members.
We believe the staff striking absolutely deserve our support in achieving a better living through pay and a better future through an affordable pension. Moreover, we stand together with our members who are both students as well as academic staff.
As Essex students ourselves, our university experience wouldn't be what it is without the quality of lecturers and staff that we have.
We all know lecturers who work far more hours than contracted and go above and beyond to ensure that our experience here is the best that it can be - and their pay isn't even rising in line with inflation!
This is our chance to support them in an important fight for the value of their work and commitment to be properly recognised.
Given the likely impact of this action on our student members' education we call on the university and Universities UK to take urgent action to reopen negotiations on pensions, pay and conditions
How will the SU support the strikes?
In order to support striking staff at the University of Essex, the SU will:
- stand in solidarity with members of University of Essex staff that are taking strike action
- inform students why staff are striking
- support UCU's communication by sharing materials in support of the strike
How will the SU support students during the strikes?
This strike action is set to have an impact on a large number of our 16,000 student members and as your Students' Union we’re fully committed to representing you and having your back throughout this time. This will include representing your concerns or complaints to the university.
We understand that the University will be seeking to minimise the effect of the strike, and that lectures that are cancelled won’t be rescheduled but also shouldn’t be assessed.
We will be working to make sure that this is the case and, should you feel that you have been unfairly impacted by the strikes, we will be offering support to you through our Education Team, our team in SU Advice (find us in Square 3 on the Colchester campus) and through the SU office in The Forum, Southend.
We will be using our website and social media channels to provide further guidance, support and news of any further developments in relation to the strike.
If you have questions about the strike then you can also email us at any time at email@example.com