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Strikes continue at University of East London over pay and work conditions

PUBLISHED: 07:00 02 March 2020 | UPDATED: 07:34 02 March 2020

UEL staff and students were joined by Unite the Union, Newham Trades Council and National Education Union members at their picket outside the Water Lane campus in Stratford. Picture: Aura Lounasmaa

UEL staff and students were joined by Unite the Union, Newham Trades Council and National Education Union members at their picket outside the Water Lane campus in Stratford. Picture: Aura Lounasmaa

Archant

Lecturers at University of East London (UEL) campuses are going on strike this week as part of 14 days of planned protests over pay and work conditions.

University of East London UCU chair Professor Gargi Bhattacharyya leading a 'teach-out' lecture about anti-racism and bystander activism at the University Square Stratford campus. Picture: Aura LounasmaaUniversity of East London UCU chair Professor Gargi Bhattacharyya leading a 'teach-out' lecture about anti-racism and bystander activism at the University Square Stratford campus. Picture: Aura Lounasmaa

The walkouts are taking place across the country by members of trade union UCU over two separate disputes centred on the Universities Superannuation Scheme and on pay, equality, casualisation and workloads.

The union says 47 universities are affected by protests over both issues, while UEL is among another 22 where staff are striking over the pay and conditions dispute only.

UCU members took to picket lines at UEL's three campuses in Stratford and Docklands over three days last week.

They also held an LGBTQI+ photo exhibition and an anti-racism "teach-out" with bystander action training at the University Square Stratford campus.

Strikes at UEL campuses will continue from Monday to Thursday this week followed by seven consecutive business days from March 9-17, pending negotiations.

UEL UCU chair Professor Gargi Bhattacharyya said: "University staff do not take strike action lightly.

"The four issues at the heart of this dispute: unmanageable workloads, an epidemic of insecure short-term contracts, a huge falling behind in our real pay and rampant pay inequality across the sector, have pushed staff to take the longest strike action in recent university history.

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"UCU believes that only by grabbing back control of universities, so that they can work for the good of staff and students, can we defend public education for future generations."

Students have joined the picket lines and expressed support for their teachers.

UEL Students' Union president, Mohammed Ismail said: "Our teachers are an integral part of our University community and their wellbeing is unquestionably interlinked with the wellbeing of our students.

"I believe addressing our teachers' concerns will greatly enhance our students' university experience."

The strikes follow eight days of UCU action in November and December last year.

University and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) says a range of proposals addressing the concerns raised by trade unions were formally offered last month and called on UCU to present these proposals to all its members.

A spokesman said: "UCU's demand for more than a 5 per cent pay increase remains unaffordable with several universities reporting deficits in their latest accounts.

"UCEA has consulted all of its members in presenting new positive proposals addressing the important issues around employment in universities, focusing on casual employment, workload, mental health and gender pay gap and ethnicity pay."

The striking UEL staff will be joined by members of the cleaners' union CAIWU for joint action at the Docklands campus on Tuesday, March 3.

An architecture teach-out about the housing crisis and a climate strike day are scheduled next week.


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