Industrial action at the University of Brighton
Members of the University and College Union, UCU, have voted 3 to 1 in support of industrial action over pay and a number of related issues.
The union has now called on its members in 60 universities to take strike action for eight days this term. UCU members at University of Brighton will be on strike between 25th November and 4th December.
The strike is about four things
- Pay – workers in higher education have seen their pay fall behind inflation every year for the past ten years. Our pay is now worth 20% less than it was in 2009.
- Equality – the gender pay gap stands at 15%. We want national action by the employers to address this inequality, and other inequalities on race and disability.
- Casualisation – the sector relies on huge numbers of staff on precarious, temporary contracts. In many universities, the majority of teaching is done by staff who have no job security.
- Workloads – to combat spiralling workloads, the union wants a 35-hour week with matching reductions in teaching and administrative hours.
The employers have ended negotiations by imposing unilaterally yet another below inflation pay award of 1.8%, and have flatly refused to address the other issues that the union has raised. That has left us with no option other than industrial action.
In defence of higher education
Our action is not targeted at students, but we do recognise that unfortunately it will affect them. The marketisation of higher education is giving both students and staff an increasingly raw deal. Students now have to saddle themselves with debt for most of their working lives in order to shoulder the cost of their education. While the competition between universities fostered by a market system subjects staff to job losses, precarious employment conditions and ever higher workloads.
Students deserve to be taught and supported by staff who are paid decently, have manageable workloads and are not continuously under threat of losing their jobs. This fight is about the kind of higher education that students now and in the future have a right to, and we appeal to students to support their staff in this battle.
This strike can be avoided
There is still time to settle this dispute before strike action starts. Vice Chancellors facing strike action in their institutions need to recognise the strength of feeling among their staff and the justice of our claim, and tell their negotiators to reopen talks with the unions. If that does not happen, there is likely to be a second bout of action in the new year.
If the UCU wins this fight it will benefit all staff in universities. An improved pay award and a shorter working week will apply to everyone. If it weren’t for for the anti-trade union laws, members of Unison and others would be striking alongside us. We are calling all staff at the University of Brighton to do what they can to support us.