ACADEMICS at the Winchester School of Art have walked out of their lecture halls as part of an eight-day strike.

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) at the University of Southampton campus are among 60 institutions who have taken action over pay, pensions and conditions.

The dispute covers one argument over fair pay, with the University and Colleges Employers’ Association, the lead body for university pay, and that staff are facing increasing workloads and more ’casualisation’ of employment.

The union has also accused Universities UK, which represents employers on pensions, of "failing to make a serious offer" over the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), a pension scheme for lecturers which has proved controversial.

According to staff at Southampton many have been feeling the impact of several years of recruitment freezes, this, they say, has resulted in employees feeling that their workloads are ‘increasingly unmanageable’. Many have said that they work 50 to 60-hour weeks to keep on top of their workload.

Adam George Dunn, senior teaching fellow at the Winchester School of Art, said that 54.1 per cent of staff at the university are not on a permanent contract.

“It is deeply inhumane. Sector wide we are addicted to it and it is lame. Winchester is not a cheap place to live and we have a lot of people who don’t have a permanent contract. If you change jobs it often means uprooting your life and that is no way for people to form a stable life.”

Mr Dunn added that colleagues who are part time have reported working on their days off, with others saying they have been forced to put in hours on weekends.

“This is not a sustainable life.”

There are also calls for better pay, with academics saying staff who are female and/or from ethnic minorities receive disproportionately lower wages.

“Relative to our training period our pay is not good. I am definitely earning a lot less than others in more sensible degrees,” Mr Dunn said.

Staff are expected to strike for eight days, with a plan to only carry out their contracted hours following this.

A university spokesperson said: “Meeting our commitments to our students and providing every opportunity for them to achieve their potential is always our highest priority. We will work with the Students’ Union and colleagues throughout the University to put in place the arrangements necessary to minimise disadvantage to our students as a result of any industrial action and to ensure that they continue to receive a world-class education.

“All of our colleagues care deeply about the education of our students and the wider activities of our University, and we will work to minimise the impact of any action on our community.”