The UCU (University and Collages Union) are balloting to conduct industrial action. They began balloting on the 18th of October 2021.
The UCU are planning to strike over their ‘4 fights’;
- “ The scandal of the gender, ethnic, and disability pay gap.
- End contract casualisation and rising job insecurity.
- Tackle the rising workloads driving our members to breaking point.
- Increase to all spine points on the national pay scale of £2,500.”
On the 25th of June 2021, new analysis by the Office for Students showed that university finances are in good health. This prompted the UCU to say “There is no excuse not to restore pay to acceptable levels and provide secure pensions for university staff”.
The University of Brighton saw a UCU strike back in 2018, when the university made moves to cut staff pay and reduce lecturers’ contracts. This was heavily criticized as the university also commissioned and started construction on their ‘Big Build’ project in 2018.
The Big Build is a rejuvenation project on the Moulsecoomb campus. A project which hopes to improve the universities amenities and accommodation in order to attract more students, in turn attracting more money to the university. However, many have questioned this move as surely the university would attract more students with well motivated, top class academic and support staff rather than new buildings.
The main questions that arose back during the 2018 strike were; if the university has no money for reasonable contracts, and are therefore attempting to cut costs, why then, is the university able to commission and continue to pay for the ‘Big Build’? Is the university putting profit building above a high standard of education taught by well-paid and motivated academic staff?
The proposed strike at the University of Brighton is a continuation of the ‘4 fights’ that the UCU are committed to fighting. These are outlined above. There are also strikes organised by the UCU in order to fight for pensions for older universities. This is not being fought in Brighton as the pension scheme is different for newer universities.
Ballots opened on the 18th of October and the ballots are returned next week. Any decision of further action will be determined after that date.
Mark Abel is the chair of the UCU coordinating committee of the University of Brighton. Mark was willing to give an interview in relation to the proposed industrial action.
“Staff working conditions are students learning conditions!”
Keep up to date with strike action here : https://blogs.brighton.ac.uk/ucu/