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ANOTHER 48-hour strike by 70,000 staff at 150 universities across Britain is set to go ahead from Thursday after the workforce rejected the latest pay offer from bosses, the University and College Union (UCU) has confirmed.
With employers “in hiding” following a recent online poll which saw 80 per cent of voting members dismiss a below-inflation offer, worth 5 per cent for most workers, the massive action is needed, the union said today.
The latest walkout in the long-running dispute, due to be followed by another 15 strike days over the next two months, is being backed by the National Union of Students (NUS).
Bosses are yet to come forward with an improved wage offer, according to the union, which also accused employers of “continually failing to address insecure employment practices and workloads” across the increasingly marketised industry.
There are over 90,000 lecturers, librarians and other support staff on insecure contracts and employees work an average of two extra days unpaid per week, the UCU warned.
It also repeated calls for the industry to revoke pensions cuts and restore benefits, saying workers will lose a whopping 35 per cent of their pension pots following cuts forced through last year.
General secretary Jo Grady said: “University bosses hold over £40 billion in reserves, but they would rather hoard that money than use just a fraction of it to settle our dispute.
“While they earn up to £714,000 a year, tens of thousands of our members are on insecure contracts, some as short as six weeks, and have seen their pay held down for over a decade.
“We have repeatedly asked bosses to explain why they refuse to deal with the issues that blight higher education, yet they refuse to publicly justify their position.
“We know they are in hiding because their position is indefensible.”
NUS vice-president for higher education Chloe Field said vice-chancellors would “rather see students face disruption on a scale we have never seen before than pay staff what they are worth.”
The Universities and Colleges Employers Association claimed last week that its latest offer is worth 8 per cent for some staff and is the highest for “nearly 20 years.”
In a statement, the body added: “UCU knows that finances are severely stretched in the face of falling real income and rising costs.”
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