The dates have been announced, and it’s the biggest strike in UCU history. Fourteen days of action in four consecutive weeks, taking place at Lancaster and 60 other universities: Thursday to Friday in Week 16, Monday to Wednesday in Week 17, Monday to Thursday in Week 18 and Monday to Friday in Week 19. Many courses will be disrupted; for modules set to run in Weeks 16-20 where teaching staff are taking action, it is difficult to see how the course can continue at all.
Our VC has subtly changed his position in recent weeks. Whereas before Christmas the message from D Floor was one of cautious sympathy, the line now seems to be ‘nothing I can do about it, mate!’ Reportedly (see our Court report below) the larger, older universities are not going to tolerate having larger pension liabilities appearing on their balance sheets, for fear this might affect their ability to raise funds.
Despite these supportive noises from management, Lancaster UCU members voted overwhelmingly to strike, on a turnout that was the third highest in the UK, and the highest in England.
Lancaster UCU has stressed its wish to ensure that no-one is prevented from taking action due to financial hardship, and has re-established its local strike fund, but the prospect of losing 14 days’ pay is likely to lead to difficult decisions for many staff.
subtext readers on grades 6 and above who are not presently members of UCU can join at any point and take strike action – recruitment is reportedly very healthy. HR has actually informed HoDs that UCU membership has ‘significantly increased since the strike was called’. Interesting that such a call for action has resulted in such a significant increase in membership, and somewhat curious that HR felt the need to tell HoDs.
Nobody at present thinks this one is going to be resolved any time soon.