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NI universities issue advice to students ahead of planned strikes later this week

Northern Ireland’s two universities are set to go on a three-day strike later this week.

Earlier this month, members of the Union of Universities and Colleges (UCU) backed the strike in two separate ballots, one over pension cuts and one over wages and working conditions.

UCU members are astounded regarding the results of the 2020 Retirement Plan Assessment, and the UUK (Universities UK) proposal for pension reforms.

On the pension ballot, 76% of USCA members who voted in favor of assisted strike and 88% in favor of non-strike, which consists of working contracted hours and duties, and not volunteering to do more as of Wednesday, December 1, 2021.

Queen’s University (QUB) and Ulster University (UU) are among 33 institutions that will see strikes over both salaries and pensions.

University of Ulster – Maggie’s Campus

Ahead of the strikes over three consecutive days, UU said in a statement: “The University has been notified by UCU of the planned strike from December 1 to 3 in response to national disputes related to pension reform, wages and conditions in the higher education sector.

“We understand that this strike can be alarming to students and staff and are working to minimize any potential disruption to our campus.

“We are working hard to protect the student learning experience during this time and measures are being taken to ensure that students whose studies may be affected by the strike are not disadvantaged at the point of assessment.

Students, for updates, instructions and information, please check your emails and visit: www.ulster.ac.uk/update.

A QUB spokesperson added: “Queen’s University appreciates that the decision to engage in industry has not been taken seriously and that staff do not wish to disrupt the education of our students, as they are our top priority. This is primarily a national dispute that the university cannot unilaterally resolve.

“The university will continue to use its influence to shape and enrich the national debate. Queen’s University will take all necessary steps to minimize the impact of industrial work on the quality of services and support provided to our students and other stakeholders.”

QUB also provided advice through its website.

The UCU union has warned that if disputes cannot be resolved, there are likely to be more strikes in the new year.

University of California Secretary-General Joe Grady said: “Next week, employees at dozens of universities will begin a strike over attacks on their pensions, salaries and working conditions. And in the new year, employees at 42 other universities can join them for a sustained period and ramp up industrial work.”

“There is still time to avoid this disruption, but this is a gift from Vice Advisers who unfortunately still choose to ignore the serious concerns of staff rather than address them.”

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