The Students’ Union stands in full solidarity with our lecturers, academics and professional staff who have been forced to take this difficult but necessary step.
Universities are currently mistreating their workforce. Research from the UCU (University and College Union) has shown that across the university sector, more than half of academics are employed on precarious contracts, pay has fallen by 17% in the last 10 years and there is still an astonishing 15.9% gender pay gap.
As students, some of us may go on to work in universities and become the lecturers of tomorrow. This is not a working environment we wish to inherit for ourselves.
Strike action is difficult for those taking part as it means forfeiting wages, potentially leaving families without income. Strike action is also difficult for us students, as it disrupts our already stressful classes and assessments. However, we understand why staff are planning this action and it is incumbent upon us to come together with the staff to challenge universities to become better employers that value and respect their workforce.
Those striking did not choose for this dispute, and do not want to be in this position. Engaging in industrial action is their only option left. The proposed changes will disproportionately affect the young, the new career starters; people like our students hoping to become academics and administrators. Not all academic staff will be engaging in strike action, but those who are will be unpaid during that time.
As your Students' Union, we will always ensure our student voice is well represented. We will represent you to minimise any negative repercussions to our assessments and exams. We will be lobbying the university to try and ensure that we are not examined on topics which are not covered due to classes being cancelled. Additionally, we will be asking the University to change assessment deadlines set during the period of industrial action, where striking lecturers may be uncontactable. We will also work hard to keep you updated on the strike, providing information from both the University and the staff trade union.
We hope that universities address the concerns raised by staff, so that we can avoid this strike action and disruption to our learning. This may be a challenging few weeks, however, we must stand by our lecturers. Their working conditions are our learning conditions.