Loughborough University London lecturers join eight-day strike action over pay, pensions and job security
PUBLISHED: 14:10 27 November 2019 | UPDATED: 14:10 27 November 2019
Lecturers at Loughborough University London (LUL) are striking this week to protest increasing workforce casualisation.
It's part of eight days of strike action by University and College Union (UCU) members across the country to disrupt classes and call for urgent changes in relation to two disputes - one over pay and work conditions, and the other about pensions.
They say many lecturers are "on zero hour contracts and a falling pension scheme" and face increased workloads.
Labour politicians including London Assembly Member Unmesh Desai, councillors Joshua Garfield and Rohit Dasgupta, and Stephen Timms, who's standing for re-election as MP for East Ham, joined the picket line at the LUL campus on Olympic Park to begin the strike on Monday.
Cllr Dasgupta, who is a senior lecturer at LUL, said: "This is not just about our pensions and job security but also about trying to change the culture of higher education in this country.
"It is an absolute shame that at a time when students are being charged such exorbitant fees for education there has been little change in pay for academics.
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"This is not just about LUL but about all universities."
Sixty universities are participating in the strikes, with 43 - including LUL - taking action over both disputes.
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said the action "sends a clear message to universities that staff will not settle for pay cuts, increased pension costs or deteriorating conditions."
However, the University and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) and Universities UK (UUK) - the respective lead bodies on pay and the pension scheme - have claimed meeting the union's current demands in each dispute would require diverting "unsustainable amounts of money from other budgets,"
They say this would have "potential consequences including for jobs, student support, course closures and larger class sizes."
UCEA chair Professor Mark Smith said: "The universities represented in both these sets of negotiations have shown that they place a high value on their employees and have increased their investment in both pay and pensions to continue to offer fair pay and excellent pensions benefits as part of a national, sector-wide framework."
UUK president Professor Julia Buckingham said: "In recent months, employers have taken significant steps to protect the value of both pensions and pay because we care about our dedicated and talented staff.
"Universities will do all they can to minimise the impact of any strike action on students, their other staff and the wider community."