LECTURERS from a university in York are held a strike rally yesterday which could impact the summer exams season.

University of York lecturers went on strike yesterday (March 24) outside the University's Heslington Hall building over the ongoing disputes of low pay, insecure working conditions, and proposed cuts to university workers' pensions, according to the University and College Union.

Lecturers have faced a 20 per cent real term cut to pay over the last 12 years and dealt with high workloads during the pandemic, according to the Union.

A vote is currently taking place over an extension of striking into the summer exam season.

York Press: Flashback to previous strike action taking place outside the University of York's Kings Manor building in Exhibition SquareFlashback to previous strike action taking place outside the University of York's Kings Manor building in Exhibition Square

At the university, an 'Open Letter to the Vice Chancellor', Charlie Jeffery, was signed by over 750 staff and students to call for his public commitment to tackle low pay and reject the pension cuts.

University of York Politics lecturer and organiser of the open letter, Liam Clegg, said: "I stand to lose around a third of my pension.

"This is off the back of a pension scheme valuation using market data from March 2020, the point at which the Covid market slump was at its worst.

"The real value of the scheme’s assets is around £25bn higher - there is money here to protect our pensions.

"My colleagues and I are extraordinarily reluctant to potentially derail exams and graduations, but we are being forced into this position.

"Universities’ ability to run exams are already heavily compromised.

“My hope is that constructive dialogue between university management and workers can and will solve these issues.

"My fear is that it is only after further strikes have occurred that sense will prevail across the sector”. 

In response to the Open Letter, the Vice Chancellor said: "I think there is a real opportunity for the University and our local University College Union branch to work together to champion change, and influence and shape this debate, including on future pay settlements.

"It is in all of our interests to avoid the cycle of uncertainty and division we have been stuck in for years, and to look at options that work towards a more stable solution on pay, to reflect hard work and cost of living pressures.”

As previously reported in The Press, the last round of university strikes across the UK saw 68 institutions striking for 10 days in February, which impacted over one million students.