Universities across the United Kingdom are set to be affected by strikes by staff members throughout February and March, following an ongoing row regarding pensions. Both the University of Oxford and University of Cambridge have seen staff vote to join the strike. This has caused concern for students – who would be impacted by the consequences of a strike. The reaction of staff is in response to planned pension changes by Universities UK – which are affecting hundreds of staff members across various Universities in the United Kingdom. Read on for the full story.
Both Oxford and Cambridge’s striking staff will begin striking on Thursday 22nd February. This will be followed up with action on Friday 23rd February. The strike will continue the week after – with Monday 26th, Tuesday 27th and Wednesday 28th all being allotted for strike action – meaning the equivalent of a week will be disrupted. As for March, official plans include nine strike days. From Monday 5th to Thursday 8th, staff will be striking. The following week is currently allotted to fall victim to a strike in its entirety. It is currently unclear as to whether or not Oxford and Cambridge’s staff will partake in all fourteen days of strike action.
As mentioned above, this vote was taken in response to planned pension changes by Universities UK. Universities UK are planning on changing their pension scheme, with a switch to a model that would see pension income linked to changes in the stock market. This would replace the current model, which provides a guaranteed retirement income – and is universally more popular. Most see the planned change as a negative step, causing concern for staff. While a strike normally comes as a last resort, it could be necessary.
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The proposition of strike action will apply pressure on Universities UK. At a crucial time in the second semester, this news will be very worrying for students, with lectures, assignment grading, mentoring and other academic functions simply ceasing temporarily. But students can also appreciate the need to strike – with these changes having the potential to be highly detrimental to staff. The strike is due to start in under a week, with so far no progress being made on the strike being called off.
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