STAFF at Coventry and Warwick universities will walk out today in a dispute over pay.
Members of the University and College Union (UCU) at the two universities are taking part in a two-day strike and will refuse to work overtime, set additional work, or undertake any voluntary duties like covering timetabled classes for absent colleagues.
The action comes after talks last week failed to resolve the dispute between UCU and the universities’ representatives, the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA).
Warwick University union members formed a picket line from 8am on both Wednesday and Thursday outside the gates on Gibbet Hill, while Coventry Universtity staff protested outside Graham Sutherland Building.
The dispute has arisen after the UCEA offered staff just a 1.1 per cent pay offer – despite the UCU claiming universities could afford to pay more.
The UCU also argue the offer does little to address the real terms pay cut of 14.5 per cent its members have suffered since 2009, while university bosses have enjoyed pay and benefit increases of 5.1 per cent.
The union has warned that if no agreement is reached in the coming weeks, further strike action is planned that could affect open days, graduation ceremonies and the clearing process.
The union is also beginning preparations for a boycott of the setting and marking of students’ work to begin in the autumn.
UCU regional official, Anne O’Sullivan, said: “A 1.1 per cent pay offer is an insult to hardworking staff, especially in light of the average 5 per cent pay hike vice-chancellors have enjoyed while holding down staff pay.
“Members have made it clear that they won’t tolerate a continued squeeze on their income, pay inequality and the increasing job insecurity blighting the sector.
“It’s time to invest properly in the teachers, researchers and administrators who are the backbone of our universities. Industrial action which impacts on students is never taken lightly, but members feel that they have been left with no alternative.
“If the employers wish to see a swift end to this dispute, and avoid further disruption, they need to come back to the table with a much-improved offer.”