ACADEMICS are to strike on Friday at the University of Westminster in Harrow - potentially causing the cancellation of hundreds of media, business and computing lectures.
The one day walkout at all four of the institution's sites was called last week by the University and College Union (UCU) after talks over the introduction of a national pay scale framework – which should have been implemented three years ago - broke down.
UCU branch secretary Peter McLoughlin, who will be leading lecturers at the picket line in the Watford Road, Harrow, campus, said: "We think it's going to be an effective strike. We think we're pretty solid.
"In terms of teaching, we're effectively shutting down the university.
"We're not seeking to be disruptive – we have been forced to do this. Members are very cross."
Mr McLoughlin said the university had defied the national agreement from 2006 by
imposing new salary bands and job descriptions, which dumped more work on junior colleagues, and tabled individual contracts that took employees out of collective bargaining.
He said the university had further undermined the agreement by telling staff it would not honour back pay simply because it could not afford to do so, costing some colleagues hundreds of pounds a year.
A successful ballot in favour of industrial action was held by the union in September and while the result should have lapsed some weeks ago, the UCU and the university agreed to extend its expiry date by four weeks to give negotiations another go, but to no avail.
"We're still prepared to negotiate," Mr McLoughlin said. "We have been trying to get a reasonable deal. It's them who walked away."
He said the UCU had the support of students who will miss out on a day of teaching.
The university's Westminster Business School, School of Electronics and Computer Science and School of Media, Arts and Design are all based at its Harrow campus.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Rikki Morgan-Tamosunas said: "Students will be justifiably outraged by the Westminster UCU’s decision to strike over a fair and sustainable deal.
"The Westminster Framework Agreement was one of the more generous in the sector.
"On top of that, our new offer included an increase in London Weighting Allowance of almost £1,000 for all academic staff, higher starting and ending points for most pay grades with automatic increments, and a professional development review by line managers.
"Staff will also have a transparent twice-yearly opportunity for grade review.
"The local UCU branch continues to ask for more at a time when the university needs to drive down costs – they are seeking to play fast and loose with jobs and the education of our students."
He said of the 563 UCU members at the university, only 252 voted in the ballot for industrial action and of those, just 134 were in favour of strike action, representing less than 8 per cent of the university’s approximately 1,800 academic staff.