14 days of University and College Union (UCU) strikes are due to take place at the University of Reading between Thursday, February 20th and Friday, March 13th.
This is following previous strikes that took place on campus last term between Monday, November 25th and Wednesday, December 4th. After this period of strike action, UCU and the University were still unable to come to a mutual agreement with regards to pay and pension contributions.
Much like last term, members are striking due to disputes over pay, and pension contributions which they were unable to sort with the University directly. This is because there have been changes to the pension scheme, with members suggesting that pension contributions should be over 26% of annual salary. The University remain on the stance that this would not be affordable and is an unrealistic request.
Disputes with pay come as the annual pay increase was set between 3.65% and 1.8%, depending on the job role. A particular concern for strikers is that average gender pay gap at Reading is currently 4.2% higher than the national average for the education at 14.3% according to data published by UCEA in May 2018. Following a student vote, it was declared by RUSU that the Union and students support the strike; this position is being upheld throughout this year’s strike period.
Although many students may feel frustrated by this news, it is important to understand the reasons behind the strike. Pay gaps, within gender and race are very important issues, and we as a society have a responsibility to address them.
At Reading, we want our staff to feel valued and paid fairly for the important work that they do, regardless of race, gender or role. However, as young people it is harder to understand the grievances surrounding the pensions. It’s difficult to imagine working a fulltime job at this stage in our lives, let alone retirement. As we have an ageing population i.e people are expected to live much longer than they use to, pensions are becoming much more expensive and promises regarding pensions are becoming harder to keep due to life expectancy and the current poorer, unstable economic climate.
It is important to remember that as before, each department and course will be affected differently by the strike. After the strikes, lecturers will be keeping to their contracted hours and, in other words, will not make up for missed timetabled hours. The University has asked that members of staff make up for missed content, however this is unlikely. Cancelled lectures and missed content will be reviewed by each school as to whether it will come up in exams.
You can complete the below form to report missed content if you feel that your academic performance has been affected by the strike. This will enable your department to make adjustments. This applies to coursework over the strike period and to exams throughout and at the end of the year.