Coventry University staff strike to hit open day

16 June 2016 | last updated: 21 June 2016

UCU members at Coventry University will be on strike tomorrow (Saturday) as part of a wave of nationwide strikes in a row over pay and conditions.

Staff at the university have timed their action to coincide with an open day for potential students and their parents. Staff will lobby parents and students as they arrive to explain more about the union's campaign for fair pay and better conditions and hold an alternative open day.

The alternative event begins at 11am outside the Graham Sutherland Building and will feature speeches from representatives of UCU, the National Union of Teachers and students from Coventry University and across the West Midlands.

The dispute has arisen following a pay offer of just 1.1% from the universities' employers, the Universities and Colleges Employers Association. UCU said universities could afford to pay more and the latest offer did little to address the real terms pay cut of 14.5% that its members have suffered since 2009. The squeeze on staff salaries comes despite vice-chancellors enjoying a 6.1% pay hike.

The union has also called for universities to commit to closing the gender pay gap and reducing the proportion of staff on casual and zero-hour contracts. On average, female academics across the sector are paid £6,103 per year less than male counterparts while 49% of university teachers are on insecure contracts.

Since 2010 the amount spent on staff by universities as a percentage of total income has dropped by 3%. However the total of cash in reserves has rocketed by 72% to over £21bn.

UCU Coventry representative, Dr Stephen Cowden, said: 'UCU members at Coventry University are taking strike action on Saturday because they have had enough of their pay being held down, while a few at the top continue to be paid handsomely.

'Members have been left with no alternative but to escalate their industrial action after universities refused to come back to the negotiating table with a fair offer. We will be explaining the reality of life as a modern day academic to potential students and their parents when they turn up to the open day on Saturday.'

As well as walking out last month, UCU members have started working to contract, which means they will refuse to work overtime, set additional work, or undertake any voluntary duties like covering timetabled classes for absent colleagues.

The union has also called on external examiners to resign their positions on exam boards; a move which threatens to disrupt marking this summer when boards meet to discuss challenged marks. External examiners are a crucial part of quality assurance in universities, as each course requires an external examiner to ensure that an institution's assessment is fair and comparable with others.

 

Comments