Callum Marshall voices his opinion on supporting the upcoming UCU strikes at Essex
As I’m sure you heard, the University and College Union (UCU) have decided to take industrial action after failing to reach a deal with employer’s representative, Universities UK (UUK), over staff pensions. I believe the students of this university should firmly stand in support of our staff, and I shall explain exactly why.
What is the strike about?
UCU are striking over plans to end the defined benefit portion of the Universities Superannuation Scheme pension. The UCU argues these plans will leave lecturers around £10,000 a year out of pocket, compared to the deal they have now. This is a huge loss of income, especially when one has retired: the UCU claim that over the course of retirement, it could cost some staff £200,000.
“The UCU argues these plans will leave lecturers around £10,000 a year out of pocket…”
Why should students support the UCU?
Many students are angry about the loss of teaching time, even with their lecturers. However I believe we have no right to be upset:We all have a favourite lecturer who is wonderful at their job, and who clearly loves what they do. This is that lecturer’s livelihood we are discussing, something far more important than missing some teaching time. It is the UUK and governing bodies of our universities which have the power to prevent this trouble: In this era of education where the student is a ‘customer’, the only way to make the university listen is by infuriating the ‘customers’.
Lecturers devote their lives to teaching, the last thing they want to do is deprive us of it. However many feel the UUK is being so unreasonable in their decisions that striking is their only option. If we stand with our staff the UUK will have to listen, and act quickly. Whether you know your lecturers well or not, they are human beings, and we have a moral obligation to stand up against the unfair treatment of others. If it were you in their position, I’m sure you’d appreciate their support, for as students, we have far more in common with the academics than we do the suits who try to market education.
What am I suggesting we do about it?
Pickett. Strike with the staff. Essex has a reputation for radicals and social justice, and the university consistently markets itself as a place for free thinkers with the ‘Essex spirit’. Well, let’s show the university that they succeeded in recruiting rebels. Let’s show that we won’t stand for the unfair treatment of our academics. If you want classes to be back on as soon as possible, then this is surely the only way.
What else do I suggest? Demand compensation. Let’s not punish our lecturers for living longer.
“Lecturers devote their lives to teaching, the last thing they want to do is deprive us of it.”
The dates of the strikes are as follows:
- February 22 and 23 (two days)
- February 26, 27 and 28 (three days)
- March 5 to 8 (four days)
- March 12 to 16 (five days)
I hope you’ll join the cause. I know I will.