University of Central Lancashire staff strike to hit exam boards

20 June 2016 | last updated: 21 June 2016

UCU members at the University of Central Lancashire will be on strike tomorrow 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 exam boards and will be out on picket lines from 8.00am outside the Greenbank and Harrington buildings.

UCU members at the university who would normally take part in the exam boards - an important part of the degree awarding process - will not attend them tomorrow. Exam boards are due to meet in the humanities and social sciences; journalism; languages; social work; business; film, media and performance; physical sciences and psychology departments.

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.

Michael McKrell, branch chair of the University of Central Lancashire UCU, said: 'University staff can no longer put up with the continued squeeze on their income. We have suffered years of real-terms pay cuts, constant demands to do more for less and an increase in the numbers of staff employed on insecure contracts. Nobody wants to take industrial action, but clearly enough is enough.'

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.

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