OPEN UNIVERSITY staff are on strike today as part of a wave of industrial action across England and Wales over a paltry 1.1 per cent pay offer and shoddy working conditions.
Universities’ union UCU is carrying out a rolling programme of action over the stingy offer.
It’s the third time staff at the distance-learning institution have walked out this year to take on real-terms pay cuts of around 14.5 per cent since 2009, having taken part in two national strike days in May.
Employers are also being taken to task over the increasing use of zero-hours contracts for teaching staff and the “persistent gender pay gap” in which female academics are paid £6,103 less than their male counterparts.
Open University pickets are assembling at the Milton Keynes campus from 7am near St Michael’s Drive and Walton Drive entrances.
The Universities and Colleges Employers Association’s penny-pinching offer comes despite vice-chancellors enjoying a 6.1 per cent pay rise last year — with average remuneration for the year standing at £252,745 each.
UCU local rep Pauline Collins said: “Our targeted strike action is a result of the employers’ failure to deal with the declining real-terms pay of university staff.
“Also, failing to tackle the growing numbers of casual contracts and the persistent gender pay gap. Members have been left with no alternative but to take this action.”
Open University has the second-highest percentage of teaching staff on insecure contracts, with 88 per cent on a casual contract of some form.