Eastbourne university staff set to strike in row over pay

The Gaudick Road, Eastbourne, campus of the University of Brighton
The Gaudick Road, Eastbourne, campus of the University of Brighton

Staff at the University of Brighton, which has a campus in Eastbourne, are set to take part in a two-day strike in a row over pay – which could escalate into a boycott of the setting and marking of students’ work and disruption of graduation ceremonies.

Members of the University and College Union will also begin working to contract from tomorrow (May 25), which means they will refuse to work overtime, set additional work, or undertake any voluntary duties like covering timetabled classes for absent colleagues.

If no agreement is reached in the coming weeks, members have agreed to further strike action targeting open days and graduation ceremonies in June and July.

The union is also beginning preparations for a boycott of the setting and marking of students’ work.

The dispute has arisen following a pay offer of 1.1% from the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA).

UCU said universities could afford to pay more and the latest offer did little to address the ‘real terms pay cut of 14.5% that its members have suffered since 2009’.

The squeeze on staff salaries comes despite pay and benefits for university leaders increasing by 6.1% in 2014/15.

Regional official Mike Moran said, “A 1.1% pay offer is particularly insulting when we know vice-chancellors have had over 6%. After years of pay restraint and constant demands to do more for less, staff have said enough is enough.

“Industrial action which impacts on students is never taken lightly, but members feel that they have been left with no alternative. It’s time for universities to invest properly in teachers, researchers and administrators.

“The employers need to come back with a better offer which reflects the hard work of staff.”

Two thirds (65%) of members who voted backed strike action and three-quarters (77%) voted for action short of a strike.

A spokesperson for the University of Brighton said, “We will be ensuring that any disruption is kept to a minimum and on both days the university will remain open for business as usual.

“We are not anticipating any disruption to scheduled exams and assessments.”

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