THE UNIVERSITY is braced for a strike on the 31st of October with management admitting that they are unable to accurately forecast the level of disruption or which lectures will be cancelled.
The national strike has been called by the University and College Union (UCU), representing lecturers, and the Unison and Unite unions representing non-academic staff.
The unions rejected a 1% annual pay rise offered by the Universities and College Employers Association (UCEA), arguing that they have already suffered a real-terms fall in income over the last four years of 13%, while UK Universities continue to enjoy an operating surplus of £1 billion.
As a result of the dispute, the University sent out an email to all students warning them of potential disruption.
However, as the unions have advised their members not to inform the University if they are striking, and staff are under no obligation to do so, the University has admitted that it is currently unable to accurately forecast what the level of strike action is likely to be and which lectures are likely to be affected.
However Vision understands that some striking lecturers have ignored these instructions and have already informed students that their lectures will be cancelled.
One lecturer and tutor who didn’t want to be named told Vision that he hoped an agreement could be made and the strike called off, and he would try to ensure that his students’ studies were not disadvantaged, yet he could not stand by while his pay and conditions were eroded.
“What I want is my employer to stop eroding my pay by awarding below inflation pay increases.”
“At the same time me and my colleagues are noticing an increase in our workload. Result: we are working harder for significantly less money while senior university managers award themselves inflation-busting pay raises and gold-plated pension deals.”
The University remains confident that disruption will be kept to a minimum. University registrar David Duncan told Vision, “in past strikes less than 10% of staff have informed us that they participated, we have no reason to assume that this year will be any different. We encourage both sides to get around the table and agree a way forward that avoids future disruption.
“We will withhold pay from staff who participate in the strike. All withheld pay will be contributed to the student hardship fund”.
This proposed strike has a mixed response amongst students, some of whom are not disrupted while others who welcome the disruption.
A third year Chemistry students told Vision, “I’m not affected at all. No one is going to be striking; there may be some technicians on strike who much up the labs, but that won’t affect me as I don’t have any lab-work that week.”
Tom Woffenden, a third year Politics and English student, was even more relaxed about the prospect of a strike: “Well all I can say is my 9am seminar is cancelled, so I’m looking forward to the lie in!”