University of Cambridge staff will strike to hit open day

Members of the UCU at the University of Cambridge will be on strike on Thursday 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 prospective students and their parents. Union members will lobby students and parents as they arrive to explain more about their campaign for fair pay and better conditions.

Striking staff will be on picket lines outside the central administrative building, The Old Schools, on King's Parade from 9am onwards.

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 can afford to pay more and the offer did little to address the real-terms pay cut of 14.5% that 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 contracts. On average, female academics are paid £6,103 less a year than their male counterparts, while 49% of university teachers are on insecure contracts. The University of Cambridge has the 15th largest gender pay gap in UK universities of 18.5%. This means that, on average, male academics are paid £8,923 more a year than women.

UCU local representative, Waseem Yaqoob, said: 'All the forces that are pushing up fees for students and increasing their debt are the same ones that are pushing our pay down. We want to explain to potential students and their parents that we are all in this together because our working conditions are students' learning conditions.

'Our targeted strike action is a result of the employers' failure to deal with the declining real-terms pay of university staff or tackle the problems of growing numbers of casual contracts and the persistent gender pay gap. Members have been left with no alternative but to take this action.'

Since 2010 the amount spent on staff by universities as a percentage of total income has dropped by 3%. However, the total of cash reserves has rocketed by 72% to stand at over £21bn. The nationwide strikes over pay began with two national strike days in May and now UCU members at separate institutions are striking to disrupt local events such as open days. More details are available here and via the Twitter hashtag #FairpayinHE

Last updated: 4 July 2016

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