'Enough is enough': disruption for students as university staff walk out over pay

Staff confirm they will strike on 3 December after negotiations for increased pay end in failure

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The Independent Online

Students face massive disruptions next week as university and college staff walk out over on-going pay disputes.

Lecturers and academics at higher education institutions across the country will strike this Tuesday after university employers failed to improve their initial one per cent offer as talks ended in failure last week.

The University and College Union's (UCU) head of bargaining Michael MacNeil said: “Staff in universities and colleges are taking strike action to say enough is enough".

“They have seen their pay slashed in real terms since 2009 and this year’s miserly pay offer, at a time of rising bills, was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Rallies are planned for the morning of 3 December in London, Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and Southampton, with members of UCU, Unison, Unite and the EIS trade union in Scotland all participating.

UCU claims university staff have seen their pay fall by 13 per cent in real terms in the last four years, with further education staff witnessing a 15 per cent pay decrease in real terms in the same period.

In response, the University and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), which represents universities’ interests, contends that the unions paint only a partial picture on pay and that pay increases are "at the limits of affordability" for higher institutions.

Mr MacNeil said: “Nobody wants to take strike action and lose a day’s pay, but we feel we have been left with no alternative.”

Talks with UCEA failed after representatives refused to improve on the one per cent pay increase which first prompted strikes in October.

A spokesperson for UCEA said: “Less than five per cent of staff voted for industrial action, so the recent strike day caused very limited disruption.”