Wera made a statement on the ongoing strike action:
"Members of the University and College Union (UCU) are currently embarking on 14 days of strike action at 74 universities, including the University of Bath, as part of an ongoing national dispute over a range of issues: falling pay, the gender and racial pay gaps, wide-spread precarious employment practices, unsafe workloads, and increases in pensions contributions deemed unnecessary by a panel of independent pensions experts set up to advise universities and the union.
"Nobody who takes strike action does so lightly. Striking staff would much rather be in front of their students teaching or working to maintain the smooth running of their universities, rather than facing the loss of almost half a month’s pay, standing on picket-lines being lashed by Storm Dennis.
"From my separate conversations with the Vice Chancellor at the University of Bath and representatives of the University of Bath UCU branch, I am aware of their shared disappointment that greater progress has not been made at the national level and concern at what appears to be a posture of confrontation developing, rather than one of compromise and consensus seeking through serious negotiations. This disappointment is understandably strong considering the positive working relationship developed between the University of Bath and the local UCU branch, where ongoing local negotiations have recently led to progressive steps on anti-casualisation, the status of teaching staff, and are currently underway on the use of fixed-term contracts and the gender pay gap.
"What the local situation in Bath demonstrates, I believe, is the capacity for university employers to enter into constructive negotiations with trade unions, with the goal of working together towards positive, collective agreements, which benefit both sides. What is now needed at the national level is for all parties to follow the example set in Bath by returning to the negotiating table, with a willingness to genuinely engage in talks so that a fair, reasonable settlement can be agreed, ending this strike action as soon as possible for the good of both staff and students."