Essex University staff to strike in February and March
PUBLISHED: 17:54 03 February 2020 | UPDATED: 09:35 04 February 2020
University of Essex lecturers will take part in 14 days of strike action over pay, conditions and pensions.
The action, organised by the University and College Union (UCU) is co-ordinated with 73 other universities across the UK, with the strikes taking place between February 20 and March 13.
Union members are striking over a lack of "significant improvements" on pay, conditions and equality, as well as the rising cost of paying into the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), one of the largest private pension schemes for universities in the UK.
Bosses at the university said they have decided to pay students who have lectures and classes cancelled as a result of the strike.
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: "If universities want to avoid further disruption they need to send their representatives back to the national negotiating table with solutions to deal with rising pension costs, and address the problems over pay and conditions.
"We have been clear from the outset that we would take serious and sustained industrial action if that was what was needed.
"As well as the strikes starting later this month, we are going to ballot members to ensure that we have a fresh mandate for action until the end of the academic year if these disputes are not resolved."
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As well as the scheduled 14 days, union members will be performing "actions short of a strike".
This involves working strictly to contract, not covering for absent colleagues and refusing to reschedule lectures lost to strike action.
The length of the walkouts will escalate over four weeks, from two days (Thursday 20 and Friday 21 February) to a full week, 9-13 March.
A University spokesman said: "At Essex we have taken the decision to make a goodwill payment to students who have lectures and classes cancelled as a result of the strike in recognition of the reduction in learning opportunities they will experience - although we know a financial payment can't fully offset the impact of strike action on our students' university experience."
UCU members at Essex were among staff at 60 universities who walked out for eight days of strikes before Christmas.
In 2020 the staff will be joined by colleagues at another 14 institutions after their UCU branches passed the 50% turnout threshold required for them to undertake industrial action.
The union also warned that, should the disputes remain unresolved, they will ballot members after this wave of strikes to allow staff to continue striking until the end of the academic year.
However, strike mandates are only legally valid for six months, so branches who walked out in November would need to secure a fresh mandate to be able to continue to take action after April.
UCU-affiliated staff also took part in an eight-day strike over pensions in November and December 2019.