Lecturers on strike today captured by 'hard left', uni chiefs say

Lecturers who walk out on strike today leaving millions of students disadvantaged have been captured by their ‘hard left’ campaigners with ‘unrealistic’ pension demands, university chiefs say

  • Universities UK said leftist lecturers from union had undermined negotiations
  • Thousands of university lecturers are set to strike for up to three days from today
  • The staff members from 58 universities are in two disputes over pension and pay 

Lecturers who begin strike action today have been captured by the union’s ‘hard left’ who undermined negotiations, university vice chancellors said last night.

More than a million students are set to be impacted by the industrial action which is set to take place from today until Friday as part of an ongoing dispute over pensions, pay and working conditions. 

Universities UK, which represents vice chancellors from 140 universities across the country, said lecturers who were walking out had been captured by the hard left faction of the Universities and College Union (UCU).

It said the campaigners had been ‘unrealistic’ in its demands ahead of strike action set to begin today.

According to the Times, Universities UK was criticising the demands made in an open letter published on a blog and UUK said two academics from the the ‘UCU Left faction’ had refused to agree to a compromise proposal on pensions.

One of the union’s key negotiators was Dr Marion Hersh, a senior lecturer in biomedical engineering at Glasgow University who is against ‘marketisation’ and has spoken about ‘decolonising’ the curriculum. 

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) will launch industrial action today, which could stretch into the new year if the row on pay and pension remains unresolved

Another academic linked to the blog post is Dr Deepa Govindarajan Driver, an adviser to regulators and banks and a lecturer in governance, regulation and risk at Henley Business School, part of Reading University.

About 50,000 lecturers are to strike at 58 universities across the UK this week in the disputes over pensions, pay and working conditions.

The union estimates that up to one million students could be affected by the industrial action. 

Members of the UCU will walk out between Wednesday and Friday following votes in favour of industrial action on two separate disputes. 

Overall, 76 per cent of UCU members who voted backed strike action in the ballot over changes to pensions.

In the ballot on pay and conditions, 70 per cent of members backed strike action.

People at Queen Mary University London after members of the University and College Union began an eight-day strike in rows over pay, conditions and pension back in November 2019

As well as the three strike days, union members will begin other forms of industrial action from December 1, including working to contract and refusing any additional duties. 

Universities branded the walk-outs ‘disappointing’ after students already suffered months of remote learning during the pandemic. 

Universities UK said the pension demands were ‘unrealistic’, could lead to ‘insolvency’ and added the UCU campaign ‘is nothing more than a smokescreen for their ideologically entrenched opposition to corporate finance’.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: ‘Staff are asking for the bare minimum… but sadly, the only time vice chancellors seem to listen is when staff take action.’

Ms Grady has warned that more industrial action could take place in the spring if the row with employers remains unresolved.

The UCU claims that cuts to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pensions scheme would reduce the guaranteed retirement income of a typical member by 35 per cent.

The union held a series of walkouts in 2019 and early 2020 over pensions, pay and conditions, which affected universities across the UK. There was also strike action in 2018 amid a row over pensions. 

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