Members of the University and College Union (UCU) are taking industrial action this week, over a series of disputes including the declining value of their pay, increased casualization, and a shocking gender pay gap across the sector.
Staff often feedback to their union that they support the cause of these strikes, but are concerned about the impact industrial action would have on students, and what reaction students may have to any strike action, particularly during exam periods – as this now is.
We would like to say to all staff at the university that we wholeheartedly support your campaign. While industrial action may have a small and short-term impact on us, working in a sector that reduces pay and increases financial instability has a much more detrimental impact on our education and our experience.
We are embarrassed to be at a university that has an unjustifiable number of workers on zero-hour, casual contracts, stripping them of their rights and protections. While the pay of university senior management has continued to skyrocket, the university claims it cannot afford to pay its staff a fair wage. Gender pay inequality is rampant: across the UK the pay gap currently stands at 12.5%, which is a difference of over £6000. We, as students, are shocked and appalled that this is the situation in which the staff who support us every day are finding themselves in, and in return we fully support them in their campaign against this.
We will be standing with staff on the picket lines on Wednesday and Thursday, and we urge all staff and students to not cross the picket lines on either day. We would also like to invite all students and members of the public to come to express their support for the teachers and researchers who contribute daily to the outstanding level of Higher Education from which the country benefits, while watching their own pay decrease 15% in 6 years in real terms.