Strike Action: University and Colleges Union, UK – the Four Fights

Seamus Connolly

A worker’s report on ongoing labor strikes against the increasingly cruel treatment of the workforce in UK universities. — Editors

Monday 14th February marked the beginning of yet another period of industrial action by members of the University and College Union here in the UK, a union which has around 120,000 members. We are on strike in what is a long-running battle against the degradation of higher education in Britain as represented by a manifold attack on conditions. This is the third bout of industrial action since 2018.

The theme of the current strike is ‘the Four Fights’:

  • The fight against the running down of our pensions
  • The fight against the gender, racial, and disability pay gap
  • The fight against contract casualistion and job insecurity;
  • The fight against rising workloads that are driving our members to breaking point.

The fact is that universities in the UK are taking in more and more money each year from students yet university staff pay has effectively been cut by nearly 20% in real terms since 2009. Added to this, staff are being asked to work harder and longer than ever before (a situation that has only become more pronounced during the pandemic). Moreover, university employers’ own analysis has shown that women, Black and minority ethnic, and disabled staff experience significant pay discrimination. To top it off, casualised contracts remain entrenched in propping up university degree programmes that service the lucrative national and international students that they bring (3,000 university staff were made redundant during the pandemic). All of the above is unsustainable and representative of the increasing application of market logic to a sphere to which such a logic is inherently inimical.

This thread explains the context and much of the details concerning the strike: https://twitter.com/_roryturnbull/status/1493151122990813187

Strike action is scheduled for 14-19 February; 21-22 February; and 28 February to 2 March, and I should stress that not all universities and colleges are on strike this time. While this is so, turnout among those universities and departments striking seems to be high so far, with strong student support:

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