UCU strikes begin for third time in three years

The University and College Union has started striking for the third time in as many years.

Although heavy rain set in, the spirit of the strikers wasn’t dampened, with around 100 staff members and students stood at the gates of Heslington Hall Thursday morning to form the biggest picket on campus, with smaller pickets seen by The Retreat and towards Fulford.

York is one of 47 universities striking over both the “sustainability of the Universities Superannuation Scheme” and “the significant lack of improvement over pay and work conditions”, according to the UCU.

Several members of the picket gave speeches, with one highlighting the “exhaustion” of the workload given to her through teaching, meaning that there wasn’t enough time to do research.

A student spoke out about how students were backing and supporting the strikes, noting that “hundreds” of students backed their last solidarity petition, although it should be noted that the current main petition to reimburse students has well over 2,000.

Members of the University of York Labour Club, Extinction Rebellion, and the Socialist Workers Party were all seen present on Thursday, chanting and applauding with the rest of the crowd.

A spokesperson for the University said: “Our focus is on minimising the impact of the strikes on our students. We will be working very closely with any affected departments to explore any additional activities and contingencies we can put in place and deliver alternative learning opportunities or mitigations.

“We understand the decision to take part in industrial action is not taken lightly and we respect the rights of our staff to participate.”

When approached for comment, UYLC told Vision: “We care very much for the wellbeing of our staff and students and are encouraging all parties to work together to find a solution to these national issues.

“As a movement dedicated to the improvement of working conditions, and one with justice at its very core, Labour has always respected industrial action in the pursuit of dignified employment. The Club is shocked by the immense workload of our staff, the gender pay gap of 17%, and the inadequacy of pay and pensions despite spending millions on vanity projects and executive pay.

We call on students to remember the adage: “the longer the picket line, the shorter the strike”.

“Their anger is deserved, and we must stand with staff in solidarity, not only for their dignity but our academic success.”