Why you should join us on the picket line – an open letter to university students
By Mark Campbell
London Metropolitan University UCU (Chair)
UCU National Executive Committee (pc)
It’s increasingly likely that university staff (UCU, Unison, and hopefully Unite and EIS in Scotland) across the UK, will be out on strike in the next few weeks.
The headline issue of dispute between us and our employers is fair pay in HE. However, this is ultimately about an awful lot more than just a fair pay rise. It’s also about ending the disgusting use of zero-hour contracts – rife at many universities, it’s about ensuring a national Living Wage for all staff (in-house or sub-contracted), it’s about challenging the gender pay gap in higher education. It’s about fighting excessive workloads and bullying. And it’s about stoping the increasing privatisation and commodification of UK higher education.
It’s about saying it is outrageous that the average pay packet of a vice-chancellor is some £250,000 per year plus benefits whilst many workers in higher education struggle on less than a basic living wage of £8.55 per hour in London or £7.45 per hour outside of London.
It’s about demanding that students have classes that are properly resourced with adequately paid, qualified, and motivated staff.
It’s about ensuring students have enough fully resourced dedicated in-house support staff to sort out their needs in as timely and hassle-free manner as possible.
It’s about students and education workers uniting together and saying it’s time the bosses that benefit so much from a highly educated workforce are made to pay for it.
It’s about saying – enough is enough. No more pay cuts, job cuts and course closures.
It’s about saying these are public universities that belong to the staff that work in them, the students that study in them, and the community within which they are based. They don’t belong to the vice-chancellors and executive groups that manage them.
It’s about saying education should be free from the cradle to the grave and education staff need to be paid a decent wage – it’s not an either/or!
It’s about insisting that the money is there to enable Higher Education to be free for all students – paying for it by increasing Corporation Tax to at least the OECD average for large corporations.
It’s essentially about saying universities are a public good and that students shouldn’t be hit with huge fees and then pitted against overworked and underpaid staff.
We have stood with you against the increase in fees and the cutting of EMA and education provision and we will continue to do so.
We have marched with you in defence of education and against its privatisation and we will continue to do so.
We stand with you now against the threat to privatise the student loan book and we will always stand with you in solidarity when you are attacked for resisting government cutbacks.
Now we need you to stand with us in this fight for all of our futures.
Please join with us in solidarity.
You will be very much welcomed at our meetings and on our picket lines.
This open letter is reproduced with kind permission of Mark Campbell. Mark has his own blog where this post first appeared.