University strikes: 50,000 employees start three-day strike at 58 universities due to wages and pensions

Students today face even more disruption to their learning with more than 50,000 university employees going on a three-day strike.

The strike — which started today on 58 campuses across the country — is canceling classes and disrupting services at universities.

It is estimated that more than a million students, who have already experienced massive disruption to their education as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, will be affected by the strikes.

University leaders blame “uncompromising hard-left” union barons who they say have made “unrealistic demands” for better wage and pension agreements.

The University and College Union (UCU), which organized the strikes, says staff are asking for the “absolute minimum.”

It comes as photos today show union university staff on picket lines outside the University of Birmingham.

One person was seen holding a sign that read ‘We are at breaking point’, while another sign read ‘This strike has been brought to you courtesy of UoB’s senior management.’

Students today face even more disruptions to their learning with more than 50,000 university employees – including teachers – starting a three-day strike. Pictured: A picket line at Birmingham University today

The strike, which started today on 58 campuses across the country, is canceling classes and disrupting services at universities.  Pictured: Pickets outside a Cambridge University building

The strike, which started today on 58 campuses across the country, is canceling classes and disrupting services at universities. Pictured: Pickets outside a Cambridge University building

Pickets were also seen today outside Queen's University, Belfast, where strikes are also taking place

Pickets were also seen today outside Queen’s University, Belfast, where strikes are also taking place

A picket line was also set up outside a University of Cambridge building earlier today. Another group was seen holding a banner that read: ‘The longer the picket… the shorter the strike.’

Pickets were also seen today outside Queen’s University, Belfast, where strikes are also taking place.

Last night, Universities UK – which represents vice chancellors – said pension demands were ‘unrealistic’ in their demands.

They said agreeing to the UCU’s wage and pension agreement could lead to ‘insolvency’.

And they claimed the UCU campaign is “nothing more than a smokescreen for their ideologically entrenched opposition to corporate financing.”

The group said teachers who ran away had been captured by the far-left faction of the Universities and College Union (UCU) — the UCU Left’ faction — affiliated with the Socialist Workers Party.

However, UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “The staff ask for the bare minimum … but unfortunately the only time vice chancellors seem to listen is when the staff takes action.”

Ms Grady has warned that more union action could take place in the spring if the dispute with employers remains unresolved.

A picket line was also set up outside a University of Cambridge building earlier today.  Another group was seen holding a banner that read: 'The longer the picket... the shorter the strike.'

A picket line was also set up outside a University of Cambridge building earlier today. Another group was seen holding a banner that read: ‘The longer the picket… the shorter the strike.’

Last night, Universities UK - which represents vice chancellors - said pension demands were 'unrealistic' in their demands.  Pictured: Cambridge University staff picket outside the Haddon Library in Cambridge

Last night, Universities UK – which represents vice chancellors – said pension demands were ‘unrealistic’ in their demands. Pictured: Cambridge University staff picket outside the Haddon Library in Cambridge

UCU Secretary General Jo Grady said: 'The staff ask for the bare minimum… but unfortunately the only time vice chancellors seem to listen is when the staff takes action.'  Pictured: University of Cambridge staff picket outside the Senate House in Cambridge

UCU Secretary General Jo Grady said: ‘The staff ask for the bare minimum… but unfortunately the only time vice chancellors seem to listen is when the staff takes action.’ Pictured: University of Cambridge staff picket outside the Senate House in Cambridge

Staff at Queen's University, Belfast, take part in a three-day strike over pay, benefits and pensions

Staff at Queen’s University, Belfast, take part in a three-day strike over pay, benefits and pensions

According to the Times, Universities UK criticized the demands made in an open letter on a blog and UUK said two academics from the UCU Left faction had refused to agree to a compromise proposal on pensions.

One of the union’s key negotiators was Dr Marion Hersh, an associate professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Glasgow, who opposes ‘commercialisation’ and has spoken of ‘decolonizing’ the curriculum.

Another academic linked to the blog post is Dr. Deepa Govindarajan Driver, a regulator and banking advisor and a lecturer in governance, regulation and risk at Reading University’s Henley Business School.

Members of the UCU will walk out between Wednesday and Friday after voting for union action over two separate disputes.

Overall, 76 percent of UCU members who voted supported a strike in the vote over pension changes.

In the vote on wages and conditions, 70 percent of members supported strike action.

People at Queen Mary University London after members of the University and College Union launched an eight-day strike in November 2019 in rows over pay, conditions and pension

People at Queen Mary University London after members of the University and College Union launched an eight-day strike in November 2019 in rows over pay, conditions and pension

In addition to the three days of strike, union members will begin other forms of union action from December 1, including working on contracts and refusing additional duties.

The UCU claims that cuts to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) retirement plan would reduce a typical member’s guaranteed retirement income by 35 percent.

The union held a series of strikes in 2019 and early 2020 over pensions, wages and benefits, which hit universities in the UK. There was also a strike in 2018 amid a dispute over pensions.

.