Oxford lecturers walk out in dispute over pay and pensions

Oxford lecturers walk out in dispute over pay and pensions <i>(Image: Social media)</i>
Oxford lecturers walk out in dispute over pay and pensions (Image: Social media)

LECTURERS at the University of Oxford went on strike today in a dispute over pay, pensions and contracts.

The university said it expected the majority of teaching to go ahead as planned as only around 11 per cent of eligible staff at Oxford are members of the University and College Union (UCU), which called for the strike.

But lecturers from the Oxford School of Anthropology set up a picket line in front of the school in Banbury Road this morning and held banners reading ‘on strike to win back my pension’ and ‘on strike for fair pay’.

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There were also picket lines in front of the Clarendon Building, at the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, in Woodstock Road and at the Oxford Internet Institute.

 

A spokesperson for the University of Oxford said: “While recognising our colleagues’ right to strike, we are working to minimise disruption for students - and in particular we are taking all reasonable steps to ensure no student is disadvantaged in examinations and assessments.

“In addition to this, the industrial action relates only to university duties so college tutorials will be unaffected.

“Some teaching may be affected in departments and faculties, where reasonable steps are being taken to mitigate the impact on students.”

Around 70,000 members of the union across the country are going on strike today and tomorrow, and again on Wednesday November 30.

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It will be the biggest strike of its kind, affecting an estimated 2.5 million students, with the union warning of escalated action in the new year if the row is not resolved.

The union says lecturers and other academic staff have suffered a decade of below-inflation pay rises, with a 3 per cent increase announced in the summer.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “University staff are taking the biggest strike action in the history of higher education. They have had enough of falling pay, pension cuts and gig economy working conditions – all whilst vice-chancellors enjoy lottery-win salaries and live it up in their grace and favour mansions.

“Staff are burnt out, but they are fighting back and they will bring the whole sector to a standstill.

“Our members are absolutely up for this strike in huge numbers because they know what is at stake.

“Universities have £40 billion in reserves but appear to be more bothered about buildings than people.

“Around 90,000 staff are on fixed terms contracts. They want a career but are being prevented from putting down roots.

“Students are standing with staff because they know this can’t go on, and they know that a sector which generates tens of billions of pounds each year from tuition fees can afford to treat its staff fairly.”

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This story was written by Anna Colivicchi, she joined the team this year and covers health stories for the Oxfordshire papers.

Get in touch with her by emailing: Anna.colivicchi@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @AnnaColivicchi