Over 150 universities across the UK are facing disruption this week as staff begin three days of strike action. In response to proposed pension changes, industrial action is being taken, which could dramatically reduce retirement income for some university lecturers and other staff members.
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In addition, many universities have been accused of failing to address issues such as the gender pay gap, casualisation of jobs, and lack of job security. This latest round of strikes follows months of negotiations between the University and College Union (UCU) – representing most academic staff – and university employers. Talks have so far failed to resolve the dispute, leading to escalating tensions between both sides.
The UCU has estimated that over 10,000 courses could be affected by the disruption, with some institutions cancelling lectures and seminars as part of their contingency plans. However, many universities are working hard to minimise disruption, with some offering online platforms or other alternative teaching methods while staff take industrial action.
The strike action is set to continue until Wednesday, 25th March 2019, and it remains unclear when the dispute will be resolved. The UCU has stated that further negotiations are still possible but has warned that more disruptive strikes could follow if no agreement is reached soon. In the meantime, university staff and students face an uncertain period ahead as the situation unfolds.
University employers and the UCU are now under increasing pressure to come to an agreement that will allow operations to return to normal. With higher education being such a vital sector in the UK, it is hoped that talks can resume soon and resolve the dispute quickly and amicably. Until then, universities nationwide face disruption as staff take industrial action.
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