Nearly each college within the UK and faculty in Scotland was hit by strikes on Thursday, as industrial unrest over pay and pensions spreads throughout the schooling sector.
Some 70,000 college employees are staging three walkouts this month in what their union has described as the most important co-ordinated motion within the sector’s historical past. Scotland’s schooling union, in the meantime, closed faculties within the greatest nationwide strike for the reason that Eighties.
The commercial motion comes amid mounting unrest throughout the general public sector at below-inflation pay rises and pressure throughout the schooling system, already below strain from tight budgets.
Throughout the nation, employees at 150 universities walked out in motion that the College and Faculty Union mentioned might have an effect on 2.5mn college students.
UCU members may also strike on Friday and November 30, in an escalation of a years-long dispute over pay and pensions. The row has resulted in weeks of walkouts since 2018, however that is the primary time motion has occurred throughout all universities, quite than being referred to as by particular person college branches.
Jo Grady, UCU common secretary, blamed the motion on the “woeful” sector management. “Employees are burnt out, however they’re combating again,” she mentioned. “They’ve had sufficient of falling pay, pension cuts and gig-economy working situations.”
The union has demanded a “significant” pay rise, after employers supplied a rise beginning at 3 per cent regardless of inflation final month hitting a 41-year excessive of 11.1 per cent. It has additionally referred to as for a reversal of cuts to retirement advantages, made to plug a deficit within the sector’s pension fund that emerged as markets crashed on the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
Universities UK, which represents employers, mentioned college students have been “effectively ready to mitigate” the affect of strikes and that it had supplied employees the “absolute best” retirement advantages.
In Scotland, faculties have been closed on Thursday after the primary educating union this month voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike motion.
Andrea Bradley, common secretary of the Academic Institute of Scotland, mentioned members “actually didn’t need to be on this place”. However she argued that that they had been “compelled” to strike by the refusal of the Scottish authorities and Cosla, which represents councils, “to make any enchancment” to their provide of a 5 per cent pay enhance.
Following last-minute talks on Wednesday, the EIS rejected a revised provide of 6.85 per cent for the lowest-paid lecturers, saying it amounted to a mean 5.07 per cent enhance. The union is asking for a ten per cent rise for all members.
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, on Wednesday mentioned her authorities had put ahead a “honest and affordable” pay rise for all public sector employees, at a time of “sky excessive inflation”, that surpassed offers supplied to employees in England.
“We’re working not simply inside a set, however a closely constrained price range,” mentioned Sturgeon.
Academics in faculties throughout the remainder of the UK are balloting for strike motion, which is anticipated to happen subsequent yr.