NUS-USI supports university staff as second round of strike action begins

Staff have voted for a second round of strike action as part of disputes over pensions, pay and working conditions.

NUS-USI has expressed solidarity with University and College Union (UCU) members after they voted to strike on multiple dates throughout February and March this year.

Lecturers and support staff at NI’s two universities will take part in fourteen days of strike action starting on 20 February.

Responding, NUS-USI president Robert Murtagh has called for an end to the marketisation of higher education, which is resulting in the increasing casualisation of work for university staff and placing significant stress on both staff and students.

Robert Murtagh, the president of NUS-USI, said:

“The student movement in NI stands in solidarity with staff at our universities who have taken this action in the face of regular attacks on their working conditions in recent years.

“This second round of strike action has come in response to the universities’ failure to make significant improvements on pay, pensions, equality, casualisation and workloads.

“I understand the concerns of students who are now facing further disruption to their studies, close to final exams. But we know that lecturers and support staff would much rather be spending their time educating students. They have been forced into this position by the continued unwillingness of universities to deal with problems which have been building for over a decade. Our education system is broken, and staff and students are paying the price.

“I encourage students across NI to engage positively with their lecturers and support staff who choose to strike, and support UCU’s campaign to defend pensions, pay and working conditions. The working conditions of staff are the learning conditions of students.

“I call on Universities UK to recognise the seriousness of the situation we now find ourselves in and enter into serious discussions with UCU about pay and conditions.

“I also call on the Northern Ireland Assembly to recognise the role that years of disinvestment in universities has played in creating this crisis and commit to increased public investment in our universities.”

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