Striking to Save Universities

In solidarity with East Midlands Universities on strike for eight days we re-publish, with permission, this great twitter feed from Dr Lee Jones (QMUL) on why staff are striking:

“You’ll get nothing from me for the next 8 days except #UCUstrike. I’ll explain why I and thousands of other university staff are striking here. Long thread, because there are a lot of grievances. /1 

Universities are at breaking point after years of marketisation.

Many ppl think unis are great places to work. Not really.

We’re overworked to the point of collapse. Academics work 2 unpaid days per week to cope with insane workloads. ucu.org.uk/media/8195/Wor… #UCUstrike /2 

At my uni
– 41% of staff say they have no reasonable workload control
– 43% can’t strike decent work/life balance
– 64% say no effective policies to relieve workload pressures
– 44% witnessed bullying/ harassment just last year.
connected.qmul.ac.uk/media/connecte…

#UCUstrike /4 

Why is it so bad? Uni leaders now run campuses like businesses. They cram students in to get more income; drive down staff costs to divert money to buildings; and impose ever more work to game external metrics/ league tables, to get even more money and growth.

#UCUstrike /5 

At my uni, over last decade, student numbers rose 66% but academic staff rose only 33%.

At many unis, despite paying absurdly high fees, students face cramped seminar rooms & libraries & overworked, stressed staff with insufficient time to support them.

#UCUstrike /6 

This is a cause of profound distress to many academics. We are dedicated professionals, devoted to our students. It pains us that we don’t have the resources to do our jobs properly. It also pains us that we have no choice but to disrupt our teaching for #UCUstrike/7 

Yet as staff pay fell 21% in real terms over last decade, our Principal’s pay and perks package rose 32%, to £324,726 in 2017/18, when £2.2m also went on “key management personnel”. finance.qmul.ac.uk/media/finance/…

Inequalities seen in private sector now manifest in unis.

#UCUstrike /10 

And pay inequalities hit women and BAME colleagues hardest. At my uni, the gender pay gap is 14% and the BAME gap is 22%. hr.qmul.ac.uk/media/hr/forms…

This is typical of higher education.

UCU wants action to address this, too.

#UCUstrike /11 

On top of all this, our pensions have been cut 3 times in last 8yrs, costing the average lecturer £240k in retirement. Some will have only £150/wk to live on. ucu.org.uk/media/10433/FA…

The old bargain was: crap pay but dignified retirement. Now that’s going, too.

#UCUstrike /14 

So what’s the strike about? Everything. Pay, pensions, workloads, equality, casualisation.

It’s about the dire realities of a failed experiment in marketising a public good.

We are trying to save universities, as well as ourselves.

#UCUstrike /15 

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