Education & Family

Strike targets University of Winchester open day

University of Winchester website Image copyright University of WInchester
Image caption The strike action will coincide with an open day

Lecturers at University of Winchester will walk out on Friday, the first in a rolling programme of pay strikes by the University and College Union.

Last month the union staged a two day national strike over a 1.1% pay offer which the Universities and Colleges Employers Association say is "good".

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt has described the offer as an "insult".

But the employers say it is at or even beyond the "limit of affordability" for some institutions.

'Escalation'

Last week the union's annual congress voted to escalate the programme of industrial action, disrupting open days and graduations over the summer and threatening a marking and work-setting boycott in the autumn.

UCU says staff have taken a real-terms pay cut of 14.5% since 2009 while university bosses had a rise of more than 6%.

The union adds that almost half (49%) of university teachers are on insecure contracts with female academics paid on average £6,000 less each year than their male counterparts.

The Winchester walkout coincides with an open day at the university.

The UCU says members will be on picket lines from 08.30 BST to lobby parents and prospective students about their fight for fair pay.

"Parents would be shocked to learn that their children are likely to be taught by staff on zero-hours contracts," said Winchester branch leader Mick Jardine.

Image caption Graduation ceremonies could also be hit by the strike plans

Ms Hunt said universities should "recognise that staff will no longer accept their pay being held down while a few at the top enjoy the rewards of increased money for universities".

She added: "Nobody wants to take industrial action, but clearly enough is enough."

'Fair offer'

Prof Elizabeth Stuart, Winchester's deputy vice-chancellor, said the the open day would go ahead but the university was "deeply disappointed" by the strike.

"Such action will do nothing to influence the national cause as it is local action.

"What it may do is impact upon the ability of some programmes to recruit and therefore put jobs at risk," said Prof Stuart.

The employers' association said UCU's attempts to disrupt the open day were likely to be ineffective as only about a quarter of staff are members.

A spokesman said last month's two-day strike had also resulted in "no to low" disruption at higher education institutions.

He urged the union "to conduct a consultation that enables their members to consider all the elements of the full, fair and final offer that is on the table."

The union later responded that Friday's action at Winchester is part of a national dispute and one of a series of strikes taking place across the UK over the summer.

It added that about 70% of academic staff at the university are UCU members.

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