Thousands of university staff in the United Kingdom have embarked on strike to demand better working conditions.
“The industrial action is due to issues bordering on poor pay, pension scheme, and other concerns about the varsity system.
The media outlet said in terms of salary, the University and College Union (UCU), the body representing varsity staff across the UK, is demanding a £2,500 pay increase for members.
Other demands also include an end to “pay injustice” and zero-hours contracts as well as action to tackle “unmanageable workloads.”
On pension, it is understood that the union and the UK government had been in a lingering face-off for over a decade.
The latest twist over the issue was said to have been triggered by concerns on the valuation of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), the pension scheme used for academic staff in varsities.
The UCU had argued that the valuation of the scheme was “flawed” since it took effect at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic “when global markets were crashing”.
The union also said sustaining the new arrangement would take a toll on its members’ guaranteed retirement income by 35%.
It is understood that the industrial action will hold for 10 days and spread across three weeks.
The first week of the strike — which would address pension-related issues — is billed to hold in 44 varsities across the UK between February 14 to 18.
This would be followed by a two-day march scheduled for February 21 and 22 across 68 institutions over pensions, pay, and working conditions.
In the third week, about 63 institutions will embark on a three-day strike from February 28 to March 2.
The last day of the industrial action is expected to hold simultaneously with a strike also declared by some students across the UK’s most-populated institutions such as the Open University, University College London, and the University of Manchester.
The development has continued to elicit concerns over possible disruption in the UK’s education system still trying to recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
The UCU estimated that more than a million students may be affected by the latest round of strikes.
But Raj Jethwa, chief executive of the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), said such disruption has so far been at “low levels.”