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Strikes to hit Oxford University for three days in late November

Charlie Hancock reports.

Staff at Oxford University will go on strike later this month after 81% of members of the University and College Union (UCU) voted to take industrial action over pressures on working conditions, pay and pensions. Walkouts will take place on November the 24th, 25th, and 30th.

The strikes form part of the largest wave of strikes to hit British universities, with over 70,000 staff at 150 universities walking-out. The National Union of Students have backed the strikes, although 2.5 million students will experience disruption over the period.

UCU members who will take industrial action include academics, tutors, librarians, researchers, and other professional staff. The union says the disruption can be avoided if Universities meet their demands. The walkouts could escalate a marking and assessment boycott in the new year if no progress is made.

“Our campaign is about protecting and improving higher education for everyone, and so we are extremely grateful for the solidarity demonstrated by students. UCU members do not want to strike, but will be forced to do so if employers continue to reject our efforts to create the healthier, fairer higher education system that students and staff deserve,” David Chivall, Oxford UCU Vice-President told Cherwell.

In light of the cost of living crisis, UCU members demand that they receive a pay rise above the 3% which has already been offered. They also want universities to stop the use of insecure contracts, and reverse cuts which the union says will cause employees to lose 35% of their future retirement incomes.

Universities UK, which represents employers at British universities including Oxford, said: “We appreciate this could be a difficult time for students, who may be anxious about possible disruption to their learning.

“Universities are well prepared for industrial action and will put in place a series of measures to protect students’ education, as well as other staff and the wider community.”

The Oxford University SU told Cherwell they are working with representatives of the Oxford UCU, University, and College Common Rooms to support students whose studies are disrupted. As mandated by the Student Council, the SU supports the strikes.

A spokesperson for the University said: “The University notes that the University and College Union (UCU) has announced a planned nationwide industrial action on 24, 25 and 30 November on pay and conditions and on the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS). We understand the concerns many staff have on pay, as well as on pensions, and of course also have a duty to ensure that our education and research activities continue as far as possible. We therefore have contingency plans in place to minimise the impact of any industrial action on staff, students and visitors.”

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