More strike action this afternoon

More strike action this afternoon

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Image credit: Niklas Rahmel
Image credit: Niklas Rahmel

Some Exeter students will face further disruption to their studies between 2-4pm today, in a fourth round of strikes over a long-running pay dispute between academics and universities.

The University and College Union (UCU) last week announced its plans for a series of two hour long strikes, the first of which took place last Wednesday.

UCU has also said that the strikes will potentially involve academics refusing to mark examination papers, which could theoretically result in some students being unable to complete their degrees.

Another two-hour stoppages will take place on Monday 10 February (9-11am).

In a email sent to all students yesterday, the University claimed – in virtually identical language to a similar email last week – that there was a “very small possibility” timetabled events in the two hour slots would be cancelled or finish early.

Speaking on the eve of last week’s action, a University spokesperson added: “The University abides by a national pay bargaining agreement: so the one per cent pay rise recommended for 2013 is one for the Higher Education sector as a whole, not just this University. The pay offer is made on the basis of what all universities can afford. Many universities said they could not afford to pay more than one per cent without imposing job cuts.

“The employers’ final offer for 2013 was rejected by the three trade unions recognised by the University of Exeter.”

The action comes on the back of two full days of strikes last term, and takes place amidst an increasingly fractious pay dispute between academic staff and universities.

UCU have called the offer of a one per cent pay increase “miserly” and an “insult too far”, whilst highlighting how academics have seen their pay fall by 13 per cent in real terms since 2009. Recently released figures detailing the pay increases of University Vice Chancellors has also angered staff and unions.

UCU General Secretary, Sally Hunt, said: “Despite another embarrassing round of embarrassing revelations about the very handsome pay rises those at the very top have enjoyed recently, universities are still refusing to improve a miserly one per cent pay offer and are still oblivious to the hypocrisy of their actions”.

She added: “Any kind of disruption is always a last resort, but, after five years of pay suppression and members 13 per cent worse off in real terms, we have little option but to escalate our action”.

Hannah Barton, University of Exeter Students’ Guild President, recently told Exeposé: “I am concerned by the change in tone from the UCU regarding these strikes, with a clear message from the union that industrial action is intended to disrupt teaching. Additional reports that exam scripts may not be marked are also deeply concerning. The full impact of these planned strikes can’t yet be known, but the sabbatical officers and the Students’ Guild will be listening and responding to student concerns”.

The University will withhold pay from any member of staff who participate in strike action, much like during previous disputes. The money will be donated to the student hardship fund.
Harrison Jones, Online News Editor
Additional reporting by Owen Keating, News Editor

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