The University Strikes are Back!

I noticed that a recent ballot of members of the University and College Union (UCU) has delivered a mandate for industrial action across 60 UK universities. Eight days of strikes will start later this month: they will last from November 25th until December 4th. The cause of the dispute is twofold: (1) the long-running saga of the Universities pension scheme (about which there were strikes in 2018); and (2) over pay, equality, workloads and the ever-increasing casualisation of lecturing and other work.

Among the institutions to have voted for strike action are my previous employers Cardiff, Sussex and Nottingham.
It seems to have taken a long time to count the votes in the case of Sussex UCU, but the result was a large majority in favour of action. It remains to be seen what the impact of these strikes will be, but they could affect a very large number of students. Nobody likes going on strike but the UK higher education system is a very poor state right now, and many of my former colleagues feel that they have no alternative.

Anyway, the real purpose of this short post is simply to express solidarity with those taking industrial action. It it set to be a big struggle, but I wish everyone taking part all the best on the picket lines!

9 Responses to “The University Strikes are Back!”

  1. While it is clear that strikes among normal workers are sometimes necessary (though, actually, one could hope that people were sensible enough not to let things get that far), striking at university where mostly students are affected, or bus drivers where those dependent on public transport are affected, is more problematic. In industry, strikes put pressure because the company loses money. If anything, in public service, strikes probably lead to the state saving money, though the bigger problem is that it affects the wrong people.

    Of course, the sensible solution is for university teachers, bus drivers, etc to be civil servants for life.

  2. Good for you. Cardiff is an ex-employer of mine (decades ago) and it was very difficult to get permanent work back then, and it was a large part of the reason why I left academia. Things have got a whole worse since then. So yes, I support the strikers (and the railways who will also be going on strike).

    • Many academics I know complain they are doing the work of two people due to pressure from managers. At the same time there are hoards of very good post-docs unable to get academic jobs due to so few being advertised. Perhaps the universities could invest money in staff instead of fancy new buildings (often of dubious build quality anyway…but thats another story)?

  3. And just a note to say the one of the issues in this strike is opposition to the casualisation of work in higher education, i.e. the increasing use of short-term contracts.

    • Officially,,,the cynic in me suspects the reality is if changes to pensions and increases in pay are secured the strike will end.

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