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1 December 2021

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Staff and students unite against university bosses' attacks

Why I'm striking

photo Leeds UCU

photo Leeds UCU   (Click to enlarge)

Declan Kenny, UCU striker at University of Leeds

The decision to go on strike is never an easy one. Every University and Colleges Union member that voted 'yes' to industrial action knows full well the impact our strike will have on students' education after what has been a difficult period.

This round of industrial action is about pensions, low pay, casualisation, unmanageable workload, and inequality in pay based on race, gender, and disability.

But it's also much more than that. It's about agitating to displace the business model that renders students consumers and staff expendable cogs in the machine.

We are taking action to fight against a marketised higher education system that does not serve the needs of students and staff alike. At the peak of the pandemic we saw the lack of regard universities across the country had for students, ushering them into halls of residence where they were forced to stay indoors in small living quarters. The reason was simple: to ensure the next year of rental income.

Common struggle

The crisis in many students' mental health and Covid-19 transmission that followed illustrates the complete lack of duty of care. Despite this, the very same university bosses insist on attempting to drive a wedge between staff and students. What they forget is that our struggle is the other side of the same coin.

The idea that students and staff are not on the same page is undermined by the fact that many of us are both staff and students. For PhD students in the humanities, our scholarships are not enough to cover our basic needs.

As a result, we are forced to find low-paid and precarious employment within the department. As a member of staff who also teaches, we are paid by the hour; the time allotted to prepping, teaching, and mentoring students is not sufficient to ensure we meet the expected standards.

I was also part of the first cohort of students who were made to pay £9,000-a-year tuition fees and have seen first hand how students went from learners to customers almost overnight.

Unless the bosses move, this is likely to be the start of many rounds of industrial action. But we are determined to win. What other choice do we have in the fight to build a higher education system that is fit for purpose and run in the interests of both students and staff?

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In The Socialist 1 December 2021:


NHS Critical

Covid-19: New variant emerges but same old capitalist disease

27 dead in channel migrant tragedy

Bulb bailed out, nationalise energy to solve price crisis

Khan threatens further London transport cuts

Kickstart scheme 'insufficient and flawed'

Tories strengthen repressive laws


After COP26: where next for the climate movement?


Argentine elections see deepening polarisation


Wales: The Labour-Plaid Cymru agreement - jam tomorrow, maybe

Rural life

Behind the rural idyll - the problems of everyday life

Workplace news

NHS workers - vote yes for action to win a decent pay rise

Staff and students unite against university bosses' attacks

UCU higher education disputes

Education unions lead campaign against Leicester academisation

RMT strikes against abolition of night tube train operators

South Yorkshire Stagecoach drivers strike against measly 1% pay offer

Nottingham and Mansfield trade unions rally against cuts and for better pay

Oaks Park school strike ends following forced concessions


East London mass non-payment wins housing victory

Marching to stop violence against women

Housing campaigners protest CEO champagners

Building a political alternative to Tory and Labour cuts

Stop the cuts to Uni arts funding

Plymouth: Hundreds attend vigil for Bobbi-Anne McLeod

Socialism 2021: How we reached our fighting fund appeal target

End fuel poverty

Readers' opinion

TV review: Valley of the Tears


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Related links:


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Higher Education:

triangleSupport uni workers' walk-out on pay and pensions

Article dated 1 December 2021

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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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