STUDENT VOICES: Staff Union Strikes – The First Day of the Rest of Our Lives

SAM_0084Universities nationally united against unfair pay today, 31st October. University staff held picket lines at entrances to Brighton University campuses. There were two trade unions involved, the lecturer’s trade union, more commonly known as UCU and the support staff union, UNISON. Dr. Jelena Timotijevic, lecturer and Chairperson of the UCU Falmer Branch explained, “We’re striking over pay conditions”, as well as “fighting to protect higher education against privatisation and against turning higher education into a business”.  Dr. Timotijevic, who defended the Falmer picket line, further describes that they want to defend education, “as a public and social good rather than something that becomes a commodity”. The union’s intention was to explain to drivers their reasons for the strike today, to encourage them against crossing the picket lines and join them in solidarity.

Brighton and Hove buses were in support of the strike today and they did not cross the picket lines at both Sussex and Brighton campuses, stating on social networking site Twitter that “Services will now start and terminate at Falmer Station #BH23 #BH25” and “Due to industrial action services cannot serve Sussex or Falmer Campuses until midday. #BH23 #BH25”.

Dr. Jelena Timotijevic states that many union members had, “been here since 5 o’clock this morning” in preparation for the day ahead. A member of the School of Nursing explained, “[we’re here today] because of the increasing disparity of wages and also the tax higher education in general” and continued to say, “people are turning around and not crossing picket lines so there are some successes.” A student of the university stated that, “Privatisation affects students massively and that seems to be something a lot of people have forgotten because they are not here”

Dr. Timotijevic expressed the importance for students to know, “that university managers across the country sit on anything between £200,000 – £250, 000, if not, more in salary per annum”. The Chairperson went on to clarify that, “university lecturers have been offered a 1% increase”, while another source explains that, “there’s been a reduction of an overall 13% conservatively since 2008/2009” and this still puts staff at a loss. A source concludes that it is said, “we’re all in this together but actually we’re not”.

Written by Sophie Mills and Jennie Anne Worf

Follow Sophie on Twitter: @MintyMills

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