Welcome 23

UCU Referendum November 2021

Should the Guild support UCU industrial action on pensions and on pay and working conditions in the 2021/22 academic year? - The 'Yes' case


University workers will be going on strike between Wednesday 1 December and Friday 3 December for fairer pay, more equitable conditions, and to save their pensions: to stand with your lecturers and show your support in the struggle for a fairer university, vote YES. 


Their working conditions, our learning conditions
The pandemic has obviously had negative impacts on students, with in-person teaching time lost, but staff have also faced huge pressure to adapt. 78% of staff have reported increased workload during the pandemic, and even before COVID 86% of staff surveyed by UCU had been directed to mental health support related to workloads. And what do they get in repayment? Their pensions slashed by 35% and a real term pay cut of 17.6% since 2009. These exploitative conditions place huge pressures on staff and are severely detrimental to our educational experience. 

Don’t let management divide us
University management wants to pit us against staff to avoid addressing the root cause of the issues facing us all: a marketised university that puts profits above people. If the Guild fails to support the strike, management will use this as a justification to undermine striking staff and continue with business as usual. This status quo is one that still sees a gender pay gap of 19.6%, as well as disability and ethnicity pay gaps which the University doesn’t even report on.

We must show University management that this is unacceptable and stand shoulder-to-shoulder in the struggle for a fairer, democratically-run university. Such fights can only be won with a united movement, and therefore we must resist any attempt to sow divisions between students and staff. A students’ union worthy of the name must support the strike.

We are students and staff

Some of the most exploited workers at the university are in fact also students. Take postgraduates in Teaching Assistant roles: they work hard to provide quality teaching but are rarely paid fairly, with some wages as low as £8.70 per hour nationally, not to mention how many are on temporary and insecure contracts (if they’ve received a contract at all). As a body which exists to represent and stand up for students, the Guild has a duty to support its postgraduate members going on strike and for all students exploited by the University. 


A last resort 
Staff do not take striking lightly. UCU have repeatedly lobbied employer associations, the government, and individual universities, but their concerns have consistently been ignored—strike action is the only route left. The blame for this dispute falls squarely on the shoulders of the University and its management. A strong show of support from students is the best way to force negotiators to the table and minimise disruption for staff and students alike. Let’s make this strike effective and help staff to get back to doing what they love! 


Vote YES to make it clear that staff and students are united in the struggle for a fairer university!