Today is the first of eight consecutive days of industrial action by members of the UCU – the University and College Union. I am participating.
What is the strike about?
We are university staff and members of the University and College Union (UCU) and we are taking strike action over falling pay, the gender and ethnic pay gap, precarious employment practices, and unsafe workloads. University employers consistently fail to address these issues.
Since 2009, pay has been effectively cut by nearly 20% in real terms, while staff are being asked to work harder and longer than ever before. The employers’ own analysis highlights that women and black and minority ethnic staff experience significant pay discrimination. Casual contracts remain entrenched. Yet the university employers are refusing to commit themselves to meaningful action on any of these appalling conditions.
UCU members want to be at work, not on strike, but the future of higher education is under threat. Growing inequality affects both students and staff – poor working conditions mean poor learning conditions. UCU members continue to ask our employers and university leaders to work with us, end the strikes, and avoid widespread disruption for students, staff, their families, and the community.‘Four Fights, One Voice’, UCU, 2019
Having spent much of the previous decade working in precarious roles in academia – short-term contracts, often part-time and hourly paid roles – I feel very strongly about this particular aspect of the strike. I can now afford to lose eight days pay and I am striking on behalf of friends and colleagues who continue to work in precarious and increasingly casualised roles. This situation is unsustainable, deeply unfair to staff and students and must change for the better.
If you would like to find out more about the strike, see the UCU website for resources.
Image taken from the UCU website.