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24 November 2021

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Support uni workers' walk-out on pay and pensions

Why I'm striking

Brighton UCU pickett line Photo: Glenn Kelly

Brighton UCU pickett line Photo: Glenn Kelly   (Click to enlarge)

Kat, striking UCU member

Starting on 1 December, University and College Union (UCU) members at 54 universities will strike for three days. I am currently a third-year PhD researcher who is also employed as a postgraduate tutor, delivering teaching to undergraduate students. As a UCU member, I'll be joining them.

Why am I striking? I love teaching, it's often the best part of my week. I love getting to talk with students about a subject that I care about deeply, and to see them begin to discover what I love for the first time. My PhD, which is funded, has also allowed me to continue researching my interests and keep a roof over my head.

But it's easy to look through rose-tinted glasses and ignore the systemic issues, largely a part of the marketisation of universities, that are at the heart of higher education, and impacting those who work there.

Casualisation of workers is rife at universities. Most academic staff are employed on short-term contracts or even hourly like me, with no job security, and yet are expected to deliver 'world-class' education to undergraduate students. Other issues of pay discrimination, and pay cuts due to inflation, remain key issues for UCU members and higher education workers.

Growing the number of students, without employing more staff to compensate, has led to dangerous workload increases (53% of university staff are showing signs of depression due to excessive workloads). Yet still university management has done nothing to address this - beyond the mandatory wellbeing email. These are serious concerns for strike action before even addressing the issue of pensions.

As a PhD researcher, I am also concerned with universities' growing exploitation of postgraduates. Despite producing new research and producing original data for these universities, we are not afforded ownership over it. We also make up large portions of the academic workforce, yet are often relegated to student status rather than recognised as staff with the rights, protections, and pay that come along with this.

This denies us access to state pensions, benefits and childcare despite working the same hours (and frequently more) as a traditional full-time job.

We must take a stand against the degradation of our universities. Trade union struggle and supporting the forthcoming strike action is one concrete way we can take action.

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In The Socialist 24 November 2021:


Workers' action can defeat weak and divided Tories

Working class strangled by price rises and pay cuts

Poorer pensioners fleeced by social care cap

Tories hammer nail in pensions triple lock coffin

HS2 eastern route cancelled: Fight for a workers' plan for public transport

Cricket's history of racism and elitism


Midwives march against unsafe staffing and for adequate funding

Tories responsible for NHS staff shortages

Violence against women

End sexism and violence against women

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Selling the Socialist


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Related links:

Higher Education:

triangleHigher education disputes

triangleStaff and students unite against university bosses' attacks

triangleUniversity workers vote for action in two disputes

triangleUniversity workers ballot for strike action

triangleCollege strikes continue into third week


triangleSolidarity with workers protesting in Kazakhstan

triangleKazakhstan: Working-class revolt only suppressed by massive mobilisation of troops

triangleWeetabix workers defeat 'fire and rehire' and ballot on improved pay offer

triangle10,000 tube workers vote to strike over jobs, terms and pension cuts


triangleSupport tube workers fighting back

triangleTories hammer nail in pensions triple lock coffin

triangleRMT AGM: Delegates focus on the looming battles


triangleLow pay, stress and Covid drive: NHS staff crisis

triangleEast Mids rail conductors force concessions, train managers' dispute continues


triangleUniversities strike - build the action and stand united to win


triangleSouthampton student vote for online exams must be accepted


triangleLondon colleges victory

Article dated 24 November 2021

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triangle18 Jan Cardiff West Socialist Party: Racism in the police - the fight for justice for the Cardiff 3

triangle18 Jan Caerphilly and RCT Socialist Party: Where is Britain going?

triangle19 Jan York & North Yorkshire TUSC people's budget meeting


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Coventry bin workers on strike, January 2022, photo by Dave Nellist

Socialist Party members joined the picket lines of striking bin workers in Coventry fighting for better pay. January 2022

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