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Striking UCU lecturers stage a ‘running picket line’ at Leeds University

STRIKING lecturers at Leeds University mounted “running pickets” around the university’s campus today as a third week of industrial action was launched by the University and College Union (UCU).

Lecturers at 74 universities are mounting the biggest wave of strikes ever to hit Britain’s higher education institutions.

The disputes centre on the sustainability of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) and rising pensions costs for members, and on the failure to make significant improvements on pay, equality, casualisation and workloads.

Leeds university saw “running pickets” around the campus perimeter.

Among the runners was Dominic O’Key, a researcher whose subject is “the philosophy of extinction.”

He told the Morning Star: “I would like to say it is inspired as representing radical mobilisation, but it isn’t.

“Actually it’s out of self-interest. It was the cold. One day it was so cold I thought I’d do something different and run around the perimeter of the campus to keep warm.

“Today there were 12 of us. So far we’ve managed to lap the perimeter three times in one morning which is about 6.2 miles. By the end of the strike next week we hope to make it to a half-marathon.”

Fourteen days of strike action by the lecturers is being spread over four weeks, and started with two days in the first week, three days in the second, four days this week, and a five-day strike next week.

UCU has written to new universities minister Michelle Donelan asking her to encourage universities to do more to end the wave of strikes.

Students wrote to the minister, and the heads of the organisations negotiating with the union over pensions, pay and conditions on Friday.

They set out their concerns regarding the ongoing disruption to students’ education.

In her letter, UCU general secretary Jo Grady echoed the frustration felt by the students in relation to the refusal of the universities to engage seriously on the issues at the heart of the dispute.

She said that this has been a major barrier to finding a solution.

She said: “Our members have been heartened by the overwhelming support from students during the disputes, and we welcome the recent letter from Jake Verity on behalf of 26 students’ unions and NUS UK calling on the employers to deliver a resolution.
 
“I urge you to join these students in putting pressure on the employers’ representatives to bring forward an improved offer that properly addresses all aspects of both disputes.”

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