Shruti13 May 2016 17:07
Industrial Action and the Students’ Union’s stance
On Thursday 12th May, the Education Zone Committee (which consists of the elected Faculty Officers, Student Groups Rep, Postgraduate Research Officer, Postgraduate Taught Officer, VP Welfare, Union President and VP Education) had a meeting to discuss the upcoming Industrial Action (25th and 26th May) proposed by the University and College Union (UCU) and to decide whether or not the Students’ Union will support this or not. As per the Students’ Union policy, the Education Zone votes on whether to support the dispute and then should that be supported, the Committee votes on whether to support the action or not.
The Committee decided to support both the dispute and the action for the following reasons:-
- On the whole, our lecturers genuinely care about student experience and for them to be taking this drastic action means that they are desperate to be heard.
- As a Students’ Union, we have a responsibility to current students but also future students at the University. With the conditions worsening for lecturers and other University staff, fewer people are going to want to work in these roles which will inevitably lower the quality of Higher Education in the UK.
- These conditions affect the Postgraduate Research Students who demonstrate/teach as their rate of pay is affected by these changes
The questions to consider: Would you be happy if you had a job with an increasing workload whilst getting a pay cut? Would you work as hard despite the worsening conditions? This has an impact on the quality of your education. To support our lecturers and University staff will help you in the long-term.
We want to work with the UCU members to ensure there is minimum disruption to all students, particularly those who will be graduating in Summer, whilst making sure that our lecturers, PGR demonstrators and other University members of staff are treated fairly. The University (as their employer) has the ability to influence the University and Colleges Employers Association’s decision to offer better and fair pay conditions, should they want to.
We will continue to work with the University to ensure that students are not affected by the Industrial Action, as this is our main priority during this crucial time in your studies and we encourage you to speak to your lecturers on the picket line to understand their point of view and show your support.
You can see the minutes of the Education Zone Committee Meeting if you’d like more details about the discussion that took place.
More information on the dispute and action:
- 14.5% real term fall in pay over the past 6 years
- Offered a 1.1% pay increase
- This is actually a pay cut (because of changes to NI and pensions)
- Average rise in pay of Vice-Chancellors across the sector is 3%
- Further information
UCU representative and Postgraduate Research student, Darren Richardson says: “We are striking because we believe that this continual erosion of pay will have a disastrous long-term impact on higher education in this country. These real-terms cuts most acutely affect younger, newer entrants to the higher education profession, further dissuading the best and the brightest from becoming lecturers and researchers. Consequently, whilst we never take industrial action lightly, we feel that we have been left with no alternative if we are to ensure the long-term viability of British universities. We would like to thank the Students’ Union for their support, and hope that the employers return to the negotiating table with a serious offer, in order to resolve the dispute and minimise the impact to students.”
What does the strike entail?
- No lectures, marking or vivas
- Not available during exams for academic queries
- UCU is urging lecturers to resign their External Examiner posts and not take up any more until the dispute is resolved
- Action short of strike: Work to rule – members of staff have been asked to only work the amount of time that is specified in their contract and no more. This could lead to delays in marking (given exam period is a busy time of year)
What is the University doing to limit the impact?
- 2 Action Groups have been convened
- One to limit the impact on student experience in terms of exams, marking, graduation etc.
- One to limit operational impact e.g. picket lines in the way of car parking
- Faculties are aware of exams, lecture, vivas etc. that could be affected and they are providing cover or rescheduling them
- The University and the Students’ Union are doing everything they can to ensure that students are not adversely affected by the upcoming Industrial Action in terms of exams, assessment and graduation
If you’re concerned that this will impact your studies, please do contact the Advice Centre. If you believe that your studies have been affected by the Industrial Action, please refer to the University’s Special Considerations Policy which may be of help (if you’re unsure, contact the Advice Centre.) Contact me if you have any further questions or concerns – you can find me on Facebook of send me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org