UCU strikes

08-Mar-18, 13:18
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 2 weeks ago
I've seen pm133's post on another thread about the strikes.

What are other people's opinion on them? Has anyone been directly affected? Is anyone on here striking?

Personally I support them because I think it's wrong to slash pre-agreed pensions, but I'm not in the union so I'm not striking myself.

I've been affected as lots of training sessions I've signed up for have been cancelled, but that's a good thing because it actually frees up my time...
08-Mar-18, 14:10
Avatar for bongmaster5000
posted about 2 weeks ago
I am strongly in support of the strikes and have been taking action myself. I am a PhD student but I also teach undergrads part-time, so we're into the third week of missed classes for them and working out of the office for me.

Initially, I was quite sceptical (as I'm sure were others on here) of taking action and losing out on pay, as a casually-employed early-career academic, on behalf of the wealthiest and most privileged demographic of academics; the last generation in our industry to benefit from easily-available and well-paid permanent jobs, not to mention nice big pensions. Where will they be when we're fighting tooth-and-nail over 6-month postdoc contracts paying >£20k a year? Very nicely pensioned-off!

However, I quickly realised this perception was massively flawed. The youngest generation of scholars has the most to lose here, since most of us won't have accrued much (or any) pension under USS yet, while for senior academics the bulk of their benefits are relatively safe. Over the span of a career, a switch to defined contributions will put today's generation of up-and-coming scholars out of pocket by far more than it will the established profs and senior lecturers.

That's not even the main motivation for me, though - I really see this as part of a wider struggle against the neoliberalisation of higher education. It's a struggle over different visions for the future of education provision in this country. While I accept that sometimes savings need to be made, I don't think this is one of those cases; the main backers of the UUK position have been hugely wealthy universities - like Bristol, with a £70million surplus for example - who have splurged on facilities, campuses etc and but won't absorb increased contributions. Not to mention the dubious methodology used to get to the £6.1bn deficit figure.

Sorry for the rant. Solidarity to fellow strikers, hope for a resolution soon.
08-Mar-18, 14:23
edited about 1 minute later
Avatar for bongmaster5000
posted about 2 weeks ago
PS - regarding the impact on students as referenced in the other thread - yes, I am sorry that it has come to this and I fully back their calls for tuition fee refunds as a result of the current disruption. I don't agree that it will be 'utterly ruinous' for their future, though I am sympathetic that they are missing out on education that they have paid through the nose for; I am convinced that universities will be scrambling to save face over this and will choose to modify exam content based on learning missed, rather than 'blanket passes' (this is what's happening where I am) - of course it's massively disappointing from a students' point of view, but I don't expect people to be missing out on 2:1s and 1sts across the board as a result.

Also, this strike has been on the cards for MONTHS and UUK is still this week dragging its feet over finding a resolution, in the face of opposition from a majority of VCs. The way UUK is handling this dispute has been pathetic and they seem prepared to drag this out to the bitter end, and they bear as much responsibility (if not more) as striking staff.

Nobody I have met or spoken to *wants* to be striking; we want to be working. Leave the 'selfish lecturers targeting students' attitude for the Daily Telegraph or the next Tube strike. UCU hasn't struck for years and years, academics have the legal right to withdraw their labour just as everyone else does, and wouldn't have done so unless they perceived it necessary.

Levels of student support here have been good and I am extremely grateful for the understanding of the situation they have shown. Students deserve a better system than they've got under the current shambles, too, and I think that is something that's also at the forefront of strikers' minds.
08-Mar-18, 14:59
edited about 25 seconds later
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 2 weeks ago
I agree with all you've said Bong.
08-Mar-18, 18:25
Avatar for chickpea
posted about 2 weeks ago
I also agree with the above.
10-Mar-18, 10:49
edited about 33 seconds later
Avatar for butterfly20
posted about 1 week ago
100% support them. Ten thousand per year off your pension is too significant not to take action. What most of my colleagues on strike have found is that most students also support the strikes and have been on the picket lines with them. It is the students who don’t even bother to turn up to class that all of a sudden care about losing out.

More importantly, this isn’t just academic staff who this is affecting. Lecturers are being targeted for being selfish when actually non-academic staff are also striking.


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