Published Thursday, 31 October 2013
Members of trade unions took to the picket line at University of Ulster Jordanstown, St Mary's College in west Belfast and Queen's University on Thursday.
They are calling for an improvement in the 1% pay rise offer made by employers as they say they have suffered a 13% real term pay cut since 2008.
According to Unite union, pay and benefits for university leaders have increased on average by more than £5,000 in the last year, with the average pay and pension package for vice-chancellors hitting almost £250,000.
Mike Larkin, president of the university and college union at Queen's said workers felt they had no other choice.
"Pay has been so low for so many years, we've lost 13% in our pay over the last four years and a 1% pay offer is just not good enough," he told UTV.
He added that those on strike were not out to damage the education of university students.
Eugene McGlone, from Unite the Union, told UTV: "Staff at universities have seen their pay drop over the last five years.
"And at the same time have noticed that the top 10% of the employees at the university - that's the top 10 managers etc - have seen their pay increase by at least 5.5% year or year and those sorts of figures are absolutely damning."
Academic and support staff have both taken part in the action.
Dr John Barry from the School of Politics at Queen's said the walk-out was a "sign of desperation".
"Prices have risen, the price of fuel, the price of childcare, travel and essentially we've taken a pay cut over the last number of years and enough is enough," he said.
"Our campaign is not simply for well-paid academics, this is really about the pay and conditions for the quality of work that we want.
"Universities are here as major drivers of the economy, certainly in Northern Ireland, it's about helping create a post-conflict society.
"We certainly want to be paying academics and indeed our support staff good wages as well."
Queen's University has said it does not support strike action and that it has taken necessary steps to ensure there is minimal impact on students.
Some students were disgruntled at the disruption to their classes and told UTV they were not in favour of the strikes.
But further action, around graduation and exam times, could be planned if a resolution that workers are happy with is not found.
© UTV News