By Eva Radhika Gurnani, News Editor
University and College Union members walked out of the University of Bristol today, in what is thought to be the biggest turnout ever.
Striking staff met along the picket line outside their department buildings, before making their way down to the Victoria Rooms.
Alongside better pay and reasonable workloads, their demands include the elimination of casualisation, action on equality pay gaps and pension reforms. Roughly a third of higher education staff are on some kind of temporary contract, while the majority do at least two days extra unpaid work per week.
Although these issues are by no means new, they are said to be more pressing than ever due to the current cost of living crisis.
UCU General Secretary Jo Grady said:
‘University Staff have had enough of falling pay, pension cuts and gig-economy working conditions - all whilst vice-chancellors enjoy lottery win salaries
'Staff are burnt out, but they are fighting back and they will bring the whole sector to a standstill. Vice-chancellors only have themselves to blame. Their woeful leadership has led to the biggest vote for strike action ever in our sector.’
Over 2.5 million students are expected to be effected by this round strike action, with many frustrated by the impact it will have on their studies.
The University of Bristol addressed these concerns, stating:
‘We appreciate that the dispute may cause anxiety for our students. We are doing everything we can to mitigate the impact of industrial action on your student experience.’
Some students have shown their support for staff on the picket line, including members of Student Action Bristol, who prepared free lunches to distribute at teachouts today.
Industrial action will continue for two more days tomorrow and next Wednesday. To find out more about why staff are striking, see here. You can access information on support and compensation for Bristol students here.