Tue. Apr 23rd, 2024

UCU strike: ‘This is staff and students versus the bosses’

By Munir Sulaiman Jan 21, 2023
UCU protesting in London over payMandatory Credit: Photo by WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto/Shutterstock

General Secretary of the University and College Union (UCU) Jo Grady made a rallying call for support this week for the one-day university strike action to take place on February 1.

The strike is the latest action in disputes over pay and pensions.  

Speaking on LBC radio Grady said: “What we are doing is holding power to account.

“Our sector has £41.5 bn of reserves. This is not staff versus students, this is students and staff versus bosses who would rather see a sector in turmoil than even consider using a small percentage of those huge reserves to make life better for the people.”   

The Universities and Colleges Employes’ Association (UCEA) recent pay offer between around 5% was labelled an “April Fool’s” joke by UCU.  

The disputes are also over excessive workload, the insecurity of hourly contracts, pay conditions and pensions.  

Lecturer at Goldsmiths University Siobhan Mcguirk expressed her support on Twitter: “We are all being exploited: rip-off fees pumped into senior management’s salaries & unnecessary building projects, while staff on deeply precarious contracts are massively overstretched due to ‘efficiency savings’.   

Whilst members of the UCU are determined to strike, the ramifications of an 18-day strike for students looms large.   

Raj Jethwa, UCEA’s Chief Executive said: “The fact that UCU is not calling indefinite strike action is welcome, but their revised strike plans could still have a damaging impact on students.

“UCU needs to provide its members with a realistic and fair assessment of what is achievable, before giving them the chance to accept or refuse the highest HE pay offer made in nearly 20 years.”

At Kingston University if a lecturer is a member of the UCU and participates in the strikes it means they do not teach their lectures, seminars, tutorials or any other academic sessions. 

Third year Kingston University student Joshua-Asare Asante said: “Same old same old. Of course, lecturers should be able to get a pay rise especially because of the recent cost of living crisis. 

“It’s just disappointing that I’m having to go through this during my last year.”  

The class of 2023 has had to deal with many disruptions throughout their studies, most notably Covid-19 and on this occasion, it is an 18-day strike.   

Third-year student Givenchy Makenda said: “I am not familiar with Jo Grady, but I agree with what she said. These universities have made too much money off our heads, and it’s about time we got serious.”   

In February 2022 Kingston students voted to support strikes as part of a poll held by the Union of Kingston Students with 82% of 1286 student votes in favour.  

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