Strikes announced at 140 universities across the UK in September

Members of the UCU (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)
Members of the UCU (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)

Staff at 140 universities will strike for five days later this month in the long-running dispute over pay and working conditions.

The University and College Union announced that its members at 136 universities will strike for five consecutive days from Monday 25 to Friday 29 September.

Strikes will hit four Scottish universities on slightly different dates to coincide with local action by other unions.

The union also announced it had withdrawn its marking and assessment boycott which started in April.

The UCU warned further action could be on the cards as it said it will begin reballoting its members at universities over more industrial action.

It said this will allow it to escalate the dispute by taking further action this year and into 2024.

Staff are continuing other forms of industrial action, including working to rule, not undertaking any voluntary activities, and not rescheduling lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action, the union said.

The union said an imposed pay rise for this year was worth “just five per cent” for most of its members.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: "We are left with no option but to strike during the start of term because our members refuse to stand by while pay is eroded and staff are shunted onto gig-economy contracts.

"It is shameful that vice-chancellors still refuse to settle the dispute despite a year of unprecedented disruption, and have instead imposed a pay award that staff overwhelmingly rejected.

"Universities are richer than ever, generating tens of billions of pounds in income and hoarding billions more in cash deposits, but they won't give staff their fair share.

"A pay award of 5 per cent is a huge real-terms pay cut and is substantially lower than school teachers received.

"We have sought to settle this dispute at every opportunity, including agreeing to a joint review of sector finances, but we are faced with employers that want to see staff and students suffer.

"We desperately hope vice-chancellors realise we are going nowhere without a fair settlement and make us a realistic offer. If they do not, campuses will be marred by picket lines during freshers' week, and we will launch a new strike ballot allowing us to take action well into 2024."

The union is seeking an above inflation pay rise, saying that pay has fallen inn real terms by quarter since 2009.