University of St Mark and St John staff strike to hit key university meeting

6 July 2016

UCU members at the University of St Mark and St John in Plymouth will be on strike tomorrow (Thursday) as part of a wave of nationwide strikes in a row over pay and conditions.

Striking staff will be on a picket line outside the main entrance on Derriford Road from 7.30am. The action is also timed to coincide with a major university meeting - the Progression and Awards Board (PAB).

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 and zero-hours 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.

UCU regional official, Philippa Davey, said: '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 zero-hours 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 and graduation ceremonies. 

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