by James Moran, Birmingham Socialist Students and UCU member
The University and College Union (UCU) who represent academic staff at Universities, including casualised and post graduate teaching staff, have called a two day strike on the 25th and 26th May! Their central demands include a 5% pay rise and action on the continuing gender pay gap (over £6,000 per year!) and growing casualization across the sector (where staff are employed on precarious short term or zero hours contracts). This follows 14.5% real terms wage cut since 2009 while Universities last year alone earned surpluses of £1.8bn. UCU is asking workers to ‘work to contract’, refusing to work overtime; and to refuse to take on voluntary duties such as covering timetabled classes for absent colleagues.
Socialist students fully support these demands, and calls for students to protest on picket lines in solidarity with workers on strike. We also recognise that these issues do not exist in isolation, but are the result of an increasingly marketised education system that has seen the removal of maintenance grants, attacks on disabled living allowances, and further rises in fees. Any disruption has to be clearly laid at the door of Universities and the Tory government, and is vastly outweighed by the damage caused to our education by increasingly overworked and underpaid staff. In particular, the growing exploitation of junior, hourly paid, and short term staff who are often only paid for a small proportion of the work they actually do (see statement from the Fight Against Casualisation in Education).
Please support the campaign by:
- Join the national Facebook event and share your pictures from the picket lines!
- Speak to your university’s UCU branch, show your support, and think about future events staff and student could collaborate on.
- Call on your Student’s Union to support the campaign and if possible bring a motion to support the strike.
- Join your socialist students organising group! The student movement can only really be effective if it build from a position of strength; and that comes from proper democratic discussion and activism that appreciates the wider social and economic issues of a failing capitalist system, that also organises with ordinary people outside of university campuses. There is a full list of local campaigns on the Facebook event.