University of Essex to be hit by eight days of strike action
PUBLISHED: 16:12 06 November 2019 | UPDATED: 16:12 06 November 2019
Staff from the University of Essex will be joining up with a nationwide strike in over concerns over pensions, pay and working conditions.
Members of the University and College Union (UCU) will strike for eight days between Monday, November 25 and Wednesday, December 4.
Around 84% of voting members backed the strike over changes to pensions with 77% backing strikes over pay and conditions.
Many of the concerns surround the changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), which UCU says will leave members paying in more and receiving less in retirement.
Staff from Essex will join members from 59 other universities including the University of East Anglia in Norwich in taking part in the strike.
When they return to work the members will be carrying out action which is just short of a strike; working strictly to contract, not covering for absent colleagues and refusing to reschedule lectures which were missed during the strikes.
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UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: "Strike action is a last resort, but staff have made it quite clear that enough is enough and universities can be in no doubt about the strength of feeling.
"The first wave of strikes will hit institutions later this month unless universities start talking to us seriously about how they are going to deal with rising pension costs and declining pay and conditions."
A spokesman for Universities UK, which represents employers in the pensions dispute, said they are hopeful the issue can be resolved without industrial action, but that plans are in place to ensure any potential disruption to staff and students is minimised.
"The resolution to the 2018 Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) valuation is both fair and reasonable, with the additional costs of maintaining the current level of benefits shared 65:35 by employers and scheme members", he said.
"It's important to note that the number of UCU members who voted for strike action over pensions accounts for less than 10% of the active membership of USS."
A spokesman for UCEA, which represents employers in the pay dispute said: "Having achieved strike votes in only 57 of the 147 HE institutions where it balloted, we are dismayed to see UCU's decision to ask its members to take such extensive and damaging strike action over its national pay demands."
The University of Essex declined to comment at this stage.
The University of Essex Student Union was also contacted for comment.