On the 3rd of December a second national strike was carried out by UCU (Lecturer’s Union), UNISON and Unite (Support Staff Union). It became a national strike to include Scotland with the addition of EIS (the Scottish Teacher’s Union). The unions held pickets for a second time at the entrances to the universities.
Dr. Jelena Timotijevic, lecturer and Chairperson for the UCU Falmer Branch explained that, “we have come out a second time because the employers are refusing to even negotiate an offer”. Library members also defended the Falmer picket line and explained that there has been, “no progress”, and the current wage many lecturers have is, “not a liveable wage for lots of people”.
Dr. Timotijevic continues on to say that as well as not moving on the current “miserable 1%” offer employers also refused to, “negotiate on equality issues”. These equality issues include a difference in pay between male and female staff members as well as, “the issue of zero- hour contracts”. These particular contracts are threatening many lecturer’s jobs and ignore the additional work lecturers need to carry out in order to teach effectively.
There was a common theme among university staff on picket lines that the dispute over the wage offer is not the only reason for the strike. Union members also confirmed that there is an issue with the transformation happening to universities from a learning atmosphere into a business environment. Dr. Timotijevic expresses, “while the official dispute is about pay” it is, “much more and bigger than pay”.
Another union member stated that another important issue is the, “way we educate kids”. He reported that lecturers currently work in an insecure environment and the whole changing of the university ethos from learning environment into a “market bureaucracy” is wrong.
A student who attended the Falmer picket line explained, the picket lines were formed early in the morning. This was followed by a march which occurred in the centre of town and later by an assembly for both Further Education and Higher education.
It has been reported that league members are supposed to meet again at the end of this week to discuss and negotiate. Even though it is not certain they will actually sit down and discuss, one thing is for sure, we are in solidarity. A student on the picket line concludes that we are, “out again today in solidarity, to help our fellow members of this university”.
In support of the strike Sussex students occupied Bramber house. As a result, the leading five students have been suspended on grounds of apparent violent behaviour. For more on this story click the following link, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-25234991.
This is in light of the first strike carried out on the 31st October where employers did not move to negotiate. Read about the first national strike here.
Written by Jennie Anne Worf