Canterbury Christ Church University staff to strike on Thursday

12 July 2016

UCU members at Canterbury Christ Church University will be on strike on Thursday (14 July) as part of a wave of nationwide strikes in a row over pay and conditions.

The Bastille Day event will see UCU members hand out cake on a picket line out the Old Sessions House entrance off Longport from 8:30am. The cake is a nod to the phrase attributed to Marie Antoinette who, when told the peasants did not have bread to eat, is reported to have said "let them eat cake."

UCU members are being encouraged to bring a cake along to the picket line and the union will present one to Professor David Shepherd, the university's deputy vice-chancellor at 10:30am that depicts the growing difference in pay at the top of the university and everybody else.

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.

This is the third time UCU members at Canterbury have been on strike this year in the pay row. The nationwide strikes over pay began with two national strike days in May and now UCU members at separate institutions are striking to target local events such as open days.

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. 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.

UCU local representative, Connie Nolan, said: 'Our let them eat cake protests are to highlight the declining rates of staff pay in our universities and the employers' failure to deal with the problem. Nobody wants to take strike action but we urgently need universities to address the problems with pay and the levels of insecure contracts.'

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