strike date set for universities


The 47,000 members of the Association of University Teachers have voted by two to one for industrial action over their pay, after employers suddenly called off last-ditch talks over pay and conditions.

Higher education staff overwhelmingly opposed the government's proposed pay and modernisation package. This would end the present system of national pay bargaining and replace it with under-regulated localised negotiations. It would also reduce annual increments, cutting academic-related staff's earnings by £47,000 over 21 years, researchers' earnings by £17,000 over 9 years, and lecturers' earnings by £6,300 over 8 years.

Because of the relative decline of university staff's pay, far too many academics have left the country. In the last five years, there has been a 50% rise in the numbers leaving Britain for jobs in the EU and the USA.

The nationwide industrial action is to start on Monday 23 February in Wales, and spread to the rest of Britain over the week. For the first time, it is coordinated with a week of action by the National Union of Students — students are preparing lobbies, demonstrations and a shutdown of higher education on Wednesday 25 February as part of the struggle against the government's plans for variable top-up fees.