Many academic and administrative members of staff at UK universities are taking part in renewed strike action over pay conditions on Tuesday 3rd December, including many from the University of Nottingham (UoN).
Members of the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU), along with Unite, UNISON, and Scottish trade union, Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), have walked out again following a failure to resolve a dispute over pay. UCU members in English further education colleges are staging similar action over the same issue.
Unions highlight the fact that the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) needed to return to negotiations with an offer that exceeds a pay rise of 1%; a proposition that was rejected and which prompted strike action on 31st October. On this date, 233 members of staff went on strike, of which 209 were academics.
Since 31st October, talks aimed at resolving the dispute have broken down and an increased offer has not been made.
“We never expected to go on strike again. It is the result of several rounds of discussions, in which employers did not listen to the demands of our union.”
In terms of action at UoN, over twenty lecturers from schools and departments across the university are confirmed to be taking part in industrial action. Those involved include English; French and Francophone Studies; Spanish; Portuguese and Latin American Studies; History; Politics and International Relations; Engineering; and American Studies.
As a result, students in departments affected by action have been informed of lecture and seminar cancellations.
Picket lines across University Park’s North, West and South entrances have been active throughout the morning with at least one instance of cars turning back at the West entrance.
Responses to the strike amongst students has once again been mixed, with many appearing apathetic towards the situation.
Concerns about the loss of contact hours were echoed by many: one student described how the rearrangement and cancellation of seminars would prove to be “a major inconvenience”.
There is, “a desperate need for solidarity between students and staff.”
However, a first year student noted how there is, “a desperate need for solidarity between students and staff. Strike days cannot be considered a day off; lectures and university staff deserve a wage that reflects their hard work”.
Lecturers and staff at UoN taking part in industrial action understand the position been taken up by students; but many pointed towards employers’ negligence of trade union concerns as being the catalyst for strikes.
“Strike action is the result of a democratic ballot in which all members are entitled to vote”
“It is a pity that we have had to strike.
Staff would have liked universities to respond positively. They have not, so we feel that we have to make our point again”.
Another lecturer commented that, “We never expected to go on strike again. It is the result of several rounds of discussions, in which employers did not listen to the demands of our union.
This dispute is a result of the employers’ intransigencies.
Students must realise that strike action is the result of a democratic ballot in which all members are entitled to vote”.
In a joint statement, UoN Students’ Union (SU) President, Ellie McWilliam, and Education Officer, Dasha Karzunina, emphasised the need for dialogue between the Students’ Union and Trade Unions in order to ensure that all students are satisfied.
They said that the SU ‘supports the right of Trade Union members to take strike action [but] where possible we would like the strike action to cause minimal disruption to the academic experience of students.
Given that we have a diverse membership of 34,000 students, we appreciate that some of our members will want to show solidarity with the strike action and we support their right and choice to do so’.
Responding to the news of strike action, the University of Nottingham also issued the following statement:
“The University is disappointed that UCU is asking members to strike again on Tuesday 3 December 2013. We are concerned about the potential disruption caused by this industrial action but will be taking appropriate action to minimise its impact.”
For more information on the October 31st 2013 strike, click here.