David Gilani

Do you support your lecturer?

 

NOTE: This article has been updated to reflect more recent strike action for the pay dispute…

On Thursday 6th  and Monday 10th February, many staff members at Universities across the country will walk out, as the trade union for our lecturers (UCU), have voted again to go on strike.


uculogoUCU (the main Union for our lecturers) stated in their main press release on the strike, that staff have now received a pay cut of 13% in real terms in the last 5 years. This is completely unacceptable, and is causing many talented staff members across the University consider leaving the sector. This is not the beginning of an argument, our lecturers have been fighting for better pay for the last 5 years with no compromise.

At Union Council on Tuesday, students voted based on current policy that we should be supporting our lecturers in this upcoming strike, as they didn’t believe that this strike would have a severe adverse effect on the student experience (although it was a close vote)… but what will the strike mean?

  • Some lectures and seminars will be cancelled (check with your tutor to find out whether they will still be continuing with their teaching).
  • Security and administrative staff will be striking, so some campus buildings and facilities will be closed entirely.

Comment from the Wessex Scene article on the strikeThe part that you play in this strike is completely up to you! UCU have been working closely with SUSU where possible to ensure that this action does not come at the expense of students and you can read statements from UCU and Unison here.

Comment from the Soton Tab article on the strikeWe encourage students to support your lecturer – they are ultimately taking this action because they feel unhappy and unappreciated. This is a chance to all come together as academic community in opposition to the cuts to higher education funding, and thus cuts to the wages of our lecturers. If you do support your lecturer in their action, here’s a few things you could do:

  • Pop them an email to say so, it would mean a lot to them
  • Join some of the striking staff at various picket points around campus – especially outside building 37 at 11am.
  • Contribute to #fairpayinHE and show your support online
  • Sign the national petition – http://www.fairpayinhe.org.uk/sign-here/
  • SUSU will be allowing UCU to leave promotional materials at our reception, so pop along to collect some

David Gilani – SUSU President

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8 Comments on "Do you support your lecturer?"

  1. David
    Disgruntled student
    25/10/2013 at 12:09 am Permalink

    What if we don’t support our lecturer walking out? What can we do then?

  2. David
    David Gilani
    28/10/2013 at 2:27 pm Permalink

    I suppose you can do a similar thing to all the students that do support their lecturer… just send them an email and let them know why you don’t support their actions. I know some lecturers that are only striking on administrative work / some that are rescheduling lecturers / contact hours that will be disrupted on Thursday. It’s important to understand that this strike comes after years of negotiations and talks to try and stop their fall in pay… and that this isn’t the first option the lecturers have taken. They are doing many things to try and make sure that students aren’t negatively affected, whilst still being able to make a point that the pay cuts they’ve received aren’t acceptable.

  3. David
    Devils Advocate
    28/10/2013 at 11:14 am Permalink

    On principle i understand, but i can’t help relate this to the rise in tuition fees that we incurred. Most of us suffered a 300% increase and yet they are complaining about 13%. Most of us will have to pay a 9% tax until we are 50(ish). They don’t have to pay that tax which we will have in the future. We all know that if a lecturer gets a research Grant they can survive very comfortably. I’ve heard it said that some lecturers regard their own books as mandatory course books, and finally don’t lecturers have a tendency to stay at one university for a long time. Couldn’t they ‘flirt’ with other uni’s to see if they can get better pay or working conditions etc.This strike only negatively affects us and them, i’m sure the heads at the Uni know they can stand firm and maybe give in by a few percent. I just can’t see this strike being very effective (certainly not 13% effective). I hope their pay increases, but i’d like a rebate please.

  4. David
    David Gilani
    28/10/2013 at 2:40 pm Permalink

    Haha I love a bit of devil’s avocado.

    Back when fees were trebled, I know that most students, and indeed many University staff members, came together against the cuts to higher education… although the protesting didn’t stop fees from increasing, it did mean that many details around repayment rates were improved (e.g. moving the base repayment rate from 15k to 21k) / some scholarship programs were increased – so there was some progress made.

    We should be looking at these strikes in the same way – a chance for all of us to come together in support of funding to higher education, and not get too pessimistic about the results from it – because any improvement is still improvement. You are completely right in some of your points about how some lecturers are well-off, with adequate funding, but you have to look at the opposite side, which is thousands of other University staff suffering from a decreasing real wage – and the problem is that this is a UK wide, so ‘flirting’ with other University’s isn’t an easy thing to do.

    So tl;dr: lecturers supported us when fees increased, we should support them now. Some lecturers will be well off (and there are many University staff who aren’t), but this strike is about the principle that to support higher education, you need to invest in its people.

  5. David
    Charlie
    30/10/2013 at 11:37 pm Permalink
  6. David
    Charlie
    30/10/2013 at 11:39 pm Permalink
  7. David
    Garrick
    06/02/2014 at 9:30 am Permalink

    Charlie, the figure you are pointing out is for professors who are more often than not off the the national pay scale that the UCU, unite and unison are trying to get improved at least in line with inflation so that university staff don’t get an effective pay cut. Professors off scale will no doubt negotiate their own pay and will almost certainly like VCs and senior management, get an inflation busting pay rise. The average quoted for non-professorial staff is more in line with what most lecturers earn and it is unfair to compare this with the national average as that figure includes absolutely everyone no matter what line of work they are in. A fairer comparison would be with other professionals such as medical doctors and lawyers who undergo a similar amount of training and have similar workloads. Then the comparison doesn’t look so favourable. An even fairer comparison would be with lecturers from other countries such as Australia, the US and Germany (our competitors as we’ve modelled ourselves as a knowledge economy) we massively fall behind here.

    An important point of course is that lecturers are only a small portion of the people on the pay scale. There are far more post docs and support staff , cleaners, security staff etc who earn no where near the amounts quoted. As a post doc I can honestly say that there are few of us who work less than 50 hours a week, and working at least 10 hours a day 7 days a week is not uncommon. If we don’t do this we don’t get papers and we’ll find it difficult to get another job. In addition our contracts are always fixed term and if we don’t get re employed In the same uni, we have to move city to stay in academia, if extremely specialist then moving country is often required. Moving is extremely expensive as well as de-settling. For people further down the payscale like admin staff, and security,pay not rising in line with inflation literally means that they have to go without.
    Finally, unlike many other sectors that don’t have the money available, ours does, the universities are making the decision to not increase pay in line with inflation not because they can’t afford it but because they don’t want to. So what is all your tuition fees going on? Currently towards building up surpluses… We don ‘t want your sympathy, we want fair pay for the work we do, the same work that many students will themselves be going in to in a few years but with huge amounts of student debt to pay off additionally. It’s in all our interests that pay isn’t devalued anymore.

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