Staff at three universities to strike over pay


Staff at three universities in Sussex are to walk out as part of a national two-day strike in a row over pay.

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) have also threatened to boycott the setting and marking of students’ work.

They will man the pickets from 8am tomorrow (Wednesday May 25) at the University of Brighton’s Grand Parade campus.

Colleagues at the University of Sussex will gather outside Falmer House and on Knight’s Gate Road, while at the University of Chichester, staff will picket the Chichester campus on College Lane and the Bognor campus on Upper Bognor Road.

A spokesman for the UCU said members would also attend a rally at the Old Ship Hotel in Brighton from 2pm.

He added staff would begin working to contract from tomorrow, meaning they would refuse to work overtime, set additional work, or undertake any voluntary duties such as covering classes for absent colleagues.

If no agreement is reached in the coming weeks, the spokesman said members had agreed to further strike action targeting open days and graduation ceremonies in June and July.

The dispute arose following a pay offer of 1.1 per cent from the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA).

The UCU spokesman said members had suffered a real terms pay cut of 14.5 per cent since 2009, and the offer “did little” to address that.

Claiming universities could afford to pay more, UCU regional official, Mike Moran, said: “After years of pay restraint and constant demands to do more for less, staff have said enough is enough.

“Industrial action which impacts on students is never taken lightly, but members feel that they have been left with no alternative.

“It’s time for universities to invest properly in teachers, researchers and administrators.

“The employers need to come back with a better offer which reflects the hard work of staff.”

Mr Moran said two-thirds (65 per cent) of members who voted backed strike action and three-quarters (77 per cent) voted for action short of a strike.

After announcing the 1.1 per cent pay rise, Professor Sir Paul Curran, chairman of UCEA, said: “Having listened, considered and responded to the trade unions on all aspects of their claim the employers remain committed to the fair final offer they have made.

“We have explained that this offer is at, and for some beyond, a limit of affordability for higher education institutions and the very best offer that will be available this year.

“All we seek now is for all the trade unions to put this offer to their members in full and within the context of a financially challenging year.

“All parties I’m sure share an interest in reaching a settlement that is both fair and sustainable for institutions, their staff and students.”

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