From the 25th November to the 4th December, UCU members in sixty universities across the country are going on strike. These include not only your lecturers, but also your tutors, researchers, librarians, administrative staff, and other staff employed to run the University. We at qmunicate are here to guide you through their reasons, and what you can do to support them.
Why are they striking?
According to UCU branch at the University of Glasgow:
What can you do to support the strikers?
The easiest thing you can do is to observe the picket line. This includes not attending class or going to university owned buildings such as the library.
You can write to the principal, Anton Muscatelli, to tell him why you support the strikes.
You can also join the picket line every day between 8am – 11am outside the main gate to show solidarity with those striking. GU Solidarity (Twitter/Facebook) are also holding teach-outs, which are a programme of alternative events on the strike days. These are held in the QMU on level 2, in the old Food Factory space. They are as follows:
11.00 Power to the Workers: Collectivising Methods for Working Students
12.00 Bureaucratic Violence and Universities
13.00 Banner/sign making
11.00 Migrant workers in the UK economy
12.00 Red&Black song club
13.00 Can socialism save the planet? Trade unions, climate change, & energy democracy
14.00 Zine making workshop
11.00 Protest poetry
12.00 Global struggle and strikes + letter writing to comrades abroad
13.00 Planning for a Green New Deal at UofG
14.00 Harm reduction and substance use
We also spoke to a couple of students to find out why they are supporting the strikes:
“I’m supporting the strike because all workers should be paid fairly and academia should be a place of knowledge and growth, not one of stress and overwork – no one should be working 50+ hours a week on less than minimum wage and,we as students, shouldn’t feel like we have to spend all hours of the day in the library. It’s really important to support the strike as we need to show solidarity with all the universitystaff and ensure that everyone has a safe and respectful working environment. Join the picket lines, share info and come to events that the UCU and Solidarity Collective are running as the treatment of academic staff affects your education.”
[Chris Timmins – he/him – @_plantbot]
“I support the strike because I believe in standing with workers as they fight for a better life. I believe we’ll only solve the problems of our troubled world through the power of an organised working class, and therefore any expression of class power against the boss gets my enthusiastic approval. Finally, I support the strike because the whole world is in motion and sadly we’ve been slacking while workers and students everywhere from Haiti and Chile to Lebanon and Iraq face the heat. No longer! It’s time we brought a little piece of the world struggle home.”
[Paul Inglis – he/him]
What is the university’s position on it?
Dr David Duncan, Chief Operating Officer at the University of Glasgow said, “While we respect the union’s right to take industrial action we are doing everything possible to minimise disruption to students. The industrial action is focussed on pay and pensions, both of which are negotiated nationally. On pensions, our view is the same as that of the local UCU branch – the recent increases in contributions (0.8% for staff) were the best way to protect our pensions. On pay, the 2019 settlement was 1.8%, but more than half of staff also received annual salary increments of a further 3%. The university is keen that discussions on the 2020 pay agreement should commence as soon as possible. We have agreed a joint statement with the local branch of UCU and regret any disruption that may be caused to students.”
They have also released a join statement with UCU Glasgow:
While respecting the right of staff to take industrial action, the University of Glasgow and UCU Glasgow regret the disruption that may be caused to students and are committed to doing whatever we can to minimise it.
UCU Glasgow will:
The University will:
The University will not deduct pay for action short of a strike which constitutes working to contract. UCU recognises the right of the University to deduct pay for any action short of a strike which constitutes a breach of the employment contract (including, for example, a refusal to prioritise work in accordance with line manager requests).
Regarding the issues under dispute:
· a significant reduction in both ‘zero-hour’ working arrangements and formalising responsible employment relationships for our GTA population;
· a gender pay action plan which has reduced the University’s gender pay gap by some 10% over the past decade, with a 3.5% decrease in the pay gap since 2013/14;
· the introduction of new caring and flexible working related policies in response to the 2018 Staff Survey