By Daphne Tona-Weyalo
Lecturers’ unions are threatening to cause disruption and cancelled lessons for Kingston students with plans for at least three more days of strikes in the New Year.
The news comes a week after the University was almost completely closed during the November 30 public sector strike against Government cuts. The reforms will mean public sector workers to pay an average 3.2 per cent extra from their salary in pension contributions.
The chair of the Kingston branch of the University and College Union (UCU), Andrew Higginbottom, said: “We’re pleased with the progress, but against the scale of what we’re confronting we still need to campaign.
“We’re looking at the real possibility of more strike days, more days of mobilisation going into next semester.
“I know that one idea is to have a two-day strike.
“We’re certainly not trying to hurt students, but I appeal to our colleagues to see that we should be working together so that we can all defend our pensions.”
Mr Higginbottom condemned colleagues who taught during the November strike, accusing them of being “narrow-minded”.
The national UCU have passed a motion to “escalate the action quickly and significantly” and said that there was a unanimous call to hold a one day strike early in the spring term.
This should be “immediately” followed by regional action, and will finally end with a 48-hour national strike. There has also been speculation that these strikes could be held as early as January.
During the November 30 strike, an estimated 100 Kingston students and staff at one point barricaded the main entrance.
It led to the majority of lessons being cancelled, much to the dismay of many students who have pending deadlines and exams.
Dr Robin Pettitt, a senior lecturer in comparative politics and a member of UCU, said: “It is always unfortunate that ‘innocents’ are caught up in a strike.
“This, however, does not mean that strikes should not happen.
“I suspect that anyone who complained about the disruption caused by the strike will complain even more if they one day find that their pension is not worth enough for them to live on.”
Read the full story in the next issue of the The River, out this Friday.