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On 25 November, university staff in the University and College Union (UCU) across the UK will be sending a clear message to management that we've had enough.
Like many workers, we've had enough of excessive workloads leaving us stressed and exhausted. We've had enough of insecure contracts leaving us worried about where our next work will come from or how to pay our bills.
It's unacceptable that our managers make us pay more in and get less from our pensions, that our pay has fallen about 20% in real terms over the past ten years, and that universities won't agree to address the gender and ethnic pay gaps.
Ultimately, we've had enough of the marketisation of the higher education sector which has seen the erosion of work and learning conditions, disadvantaging staff and students, to drive up profit.
As we start our eight days of consecutive strike action, we are reminded that we are the ones who really run the university, not the fat-cat vice-chancellors, who attend the meetings which sets their pay, and now earn a 'basic' salary of over £250,000.
It is us, the researchers, technicians, lecturers, working students, professional service and academic-related staff, together with other workers, that keep the university functioning.
And by taking this bold action, we are pushing back against this rotten system of exploitation and greed which has seen our conditions eroded while senior pay soars.
But to win, we will need a strong union and leadership which can keep the pressure on university managers.
Our strike last year showed that concessions can be won through determined struggle. We must be prepared to continue the fight if managers don't agree to concessions straight away.
That's why the UCU branches that didn't hit the anti-union 50% ballot threshold this time should be re-balloted, so that they can join us if more action is needed.
Our decision to fight back over these issues is a massive step forward for our union and sector. But the issues we are fighting on aren't limited to university staff.
Falling pay, job insecurity and crippling workloads will continue to be the status quo across the UK until we kick the Tories out, along with their austerity policies.
We call for students, trade union activists and anti-cuts campaigners to support our fight and to send a clear message to campaigning politicians that if they don't fight for us, we're bringing the fight to them.
Article dated 20 November 2019
The Socialist, weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party
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