Bangor University staff are set to walk out for eight days of strike action in a row over pensions, pay and working conditions later this month.

The strikes are the result of two ongoing disputes in higher education: one on pay, job security, workload and equality, and one on changes to Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pensions.

 

The University and College Union has now called an eight-day strike across Britain’s universities starting on 25 November to 4 December, after UCU members backed strike action.

In the ballot over changes to pensions 79% of UCU members voted to support strike action. For the ballot on pay, equality, casualisation and workloads, 74% of members polled backed strike action.

The current dispute over USS pensions stems from changes introduced since 2011, which mean the average member stands to lose around £240,000 over their lifetime.

Last year unprecedented strike action stopped plans to scrap defined benefit pensions, but members now face steep rises in their pension contributions – from 8% last year to 9.6%, with further increases planned in 2021. This is despite an independent panel of experts concluding that the scheme could continue with a much lower contribution rate.

The UCU warned that universities would have to “respond positively and quickly” if they want to avoid disruption again this year. “Universities can be in no doubt about strength of feeling amongst staff,” the union warned.

As well as eight strike days, union members will begin “action short of a strike” when they return to work. This involves working strictly to contract, not covering for absent colleagues and refusing to reschedule lectures lost to strike action.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “The first wave of strikes will hit universities later this month unless the employers start talking to us seriously about how they are going to deal with rising pension costs and declining pay and conditions.”

A Bangor University spokesman said: “We are calling for an early resolution to this dispute. In the meantime, we will do everything we can to reduce any possible impact the strike could have on students, and the university will remain open during the strike period.”