Students at Queen’s University and the University of Ulster are facing disruption today as university staff stage a one-day walkout in a bitter row over pay.
Lectures, workshops and tutorials were being cancelled and postponed as members of three unions - the University and College Union (UCU), Unison and Unite - joined picket lines across the UK.
The strike action centres on a 1% pay rise offered to university staff - including lecturers, technicians and administration workers - which the unions insist means there has been a 13% pay cut in real terms since October 2008.
Union leaders said that tens of thousands of their members were taking part in the walkout and early reports suggested strong support across the UK for the action.
But the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), which represents and negotiates on behalf of institutions and has expressed “disappointment’’ at the move, said the early indications were that the strike was having minimal impact.
Today’s walkout is affecting 149 universities across the UK, according to the unions, with support services such as catering, cleaning and security also hit.