HE Strike May 2016

Watch UCU Regional Official Iain Owens in a series of short videos to explain the action:

These videos were circulated via social media, but are now also available for you to view via youtube

“Why are UCU members striking?” : https://youtu.be/JO8GXAMaFMc

“What does UCU hope the response to the strike action will be?” : https://youtu.be/q29TB0C8nFU

“What level of support has there been for the action?”  : https://youtu.be/-wd4X7dkZi4

“Is there likely to be more strike action?” : https://youtu.be/BFKD3uzZ2XQ

Please attend the Newcastle rally on Thursday 26th May : https://youtu.be/REMIPqYxjQw


Regional press release

Staff at universities across the North East and Cumbria will join a two-day national strike taking place at universities across the UK on Wednesday (25 May) and Thursday (26 May).

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) at:

  • Durham University
  • Newcastle University
  • Northumbria University
  • University of Sunderland
  • Teesside University and
  • University of Cumbria   will walk out in an ongoing dispute over pay.


Members will also begin working to contract from Wednesday (25 May), which means they will refuse to work overtime, set additional work, or undertake any voluntary duties like covering timetabled classes for absent colleagues.


If no agreement is reached in the coming weeks, members have agreed to further strike action in June and July. The union is also beginning preparations for a boycott of the setting and marking of students’ work, to begin in the autumn if an acceptable offer has still not been made.


The dispute has arisen following a pay offer of 1.1% from the employer body, the Universities and Colleges Employers’ Association (UCEA), which the union described as ‘an insult’. UCU said universities could afford to pay more and that the latest offer does little to address the real terms pay cut of 14.5% that its members have suffered since 2009. The squeeze on staff salaries comes at a time when pay and benefits for university leaders increased, on average, by 5.1% in 2014/15.


The union has also called for universities to commit to closing the gender pay gap and to reducing the proportion of staff on casual and zero-hour contracts. On average, female academics across the sector are paid £6,103 per year less than male counterparts, while 49% of university teachers are on insecure contracts.


Around two thirds (65.4%) of members who voted backed strike action and over three quarters (77.3%) voted for action short of a strike.


Regional Official, Iain Owens, said: ‘A 1.1% pay offer is particularly insulting when we know vice-chancellors have just had over 5%. University staff can no longer put up with the continued squeeze on their income. After six years of pay cuts and constant demands to do more for less, staff have said enough is enough.


‘Industrial action which impacts on students is never taken lightly, but members feel that they have been left with no alternative. It’s time for universities to invest properly in teachers, researchers and administrators. The employers need to come back with a better offer which reflects the hard work of staff.’


Picket lines

University of Cumbria

25th May Fusehill Street Campus, Carlisle 7.45am – 10am
25th May Brampton Road Campus, Carlisle 8am – 10am
25th May Lancaster Campus, Bowerham Road, Lancaster 8am – 10am

Durham University

25th & 26th May Meet at 7.45 am opposite the New Inn New Inn to
arrange picketing at both entrances to the Science Site and at Elvet
7.45am – 9.30am


Newcastle University

25th & 26th May Entrances at either end of King’s Road.

The media are encouraged to visit.

8am – 11.30am
25th & 26th May Entrance to King’s Gate Building (TBC) 8am – 11.30am

Northumbria University 

25th & 26th May Main entrance to Lipman Building 9am – 10am
25th & 26th May Northumberland Road main entrance.  The media are encouraged to visit this picket. 10am – 12pm
25th & 26th May City Campus East entrance (opposite Manors Metro) 10am – 12pm
25th & 26th May Squires Building entrance (opposite Civic Centre) 10am – 12pm
25th & 26th May Coach Lane Campus entrance 10am – 12pm

Sunderland University

Some pickets will be on site from 8am each day. Of particular note:

25th May St Peter’s Campus main entrance 8am – 10.30am
25th May The Sciences Complex mini “rally”, City Campus Chester Road 10.45am

Teesside University

25th May Borough Road main entrance.

The media are encouraged to visit.

8am – 11.30am



Regional rally, Newcastle

There will be a regional rally at 1pm on Thursday 26 May at Grey’s Monument, Newcastle with speakers from UCU, UNISON and PCS union.

UCU Head of Higher Education, Paul Bridge, will speak at the rally and will be available for interview on the morning of Thursday 26 May.
More details of the rally can be found at: ucunorthern.org.uk/event/he-strike-rally-may-2016

For full information on the action see ucu.org.uk/he2016