Northern Ireland news

Staff at Queen's University Belfast to join UK-wide strikes

The strike at QUB will take place tomorrow, Friday and next Wednesday
Rebecca Black, PA

Staff at Queen’s University Belfast are set to take part in UK-wide industrial action this week.

It comes after members of the University College Union (UCU) voted to strike over pay, conditions and pensions.

The strike will take place tomorrow, Friday and next Wednesday.

The UCU said ballots returned a 79% majority vote on the pay dispute and an 81% majority on the pension dispute in favour of strike action.

The union said that since 2009 staff pay has been cut in real terms by more than 25%, while the pensions of university workers have been slashed this year by an average of 35%.

Professor Sean O’Connell, president of the UCU branch at QUB, said staff are going on strike for future generations of university employees.

“In response to our strike action, QUB senior managers will again claim that pay and pensions are a national issue and that they are powerless to act on them,” he said.

“If university vice-chancellors, like our own Professor Ian Greer, can’t respond effectively and ethically to this matter, why are they paid such astronomical salaries?

“The 150 UK vice-chancellors are paid a total of £44 million per year. For such an unbelievable sum, I would hope at least one of those privileged 150 university leaders is capable of coming up with meaningful proposals to end the damaging cycle of industrial action in our universities that has gone on for far too long.

“Thanks to students’ astronomical fees, UK universities are awash with cash. QUB has over £600 million in reserves and the sector as a whole has billions in its financial reserves.

“Yet they have been driving down real-terms staff pay for 15 years. Slashing our pensions by up to 35% was another further cynical move that is rapidly making working in higher education a much less attractive prospect than it was a generation ago.

“This strike is about much more than current grievances. We are striking for future generations of staff and students.”

Pickets are planned each day of the strike from 8am outside the main gates of the Lanyon Building.

Northern Ireland news