Trade Union Strike Action
UCU and Unison, both higher education trade unions that represent staff at the University of Brighton, have planned and announced industrial action over pay on Thursday 31st October.
Following a democratic ballot by both Unions, members nationally have voted in favour of strike action next week. The call for a strike follows a dispute over a 1% pay rise offered to staff that in real terms equates to a 13% pay cut since October 2008. Both unions have expressed that this comes at a time when pay and benefits for university leaders have increased, on average, by more than £5,000 in 2011-2012.
This will be the first UK-wide joint strike between higher education unions, so all institutions where staff are members of these trade unions will be affected.
Students should be aware that University buildings may be closed and there may be cancellations of lectures, seminars, and workshops. Services within the University and the Students’ Union may also be unavailable or limited on the 31st as a result of the strike action.
Students’ Union Position
Brighton Students’ Union supports this strike.
We do not take this decision lightly and understand that strike action comes as a last resort, which demonstrates the anger and desperate nature of the situation faced by staff.
The Students’ Union recognises strike action as an effective, appropriate, and legitimate method of challenging working conditions or practices that are unfair and fully supports both unions’ right to strike.
We believe quality of education is affected when those staff who support us do not receive fair salaries. Ultimately, we believe the benefit of staff who are rewarded properly for the fantastic work they do far outweighs one day’s disruption to studies. Our own research shows that students who get the most out of university both in terms of enjoyment and success do so when they are supported by enthusiastic and engaging staff. If we are to retain these staff members, they cannot continue to suffer these huge real term pay cuts.
What should you do?
1 – Talk to your tutors and find out what they have planned. Regardless of your position on the strike it is essential that you know whether you are likely to face any changes to your timetable on the 31st October.
2 – Talk to your tutors some more. Particularly if they are intending to take action on the 31st to gain a better understanding of why they feel this is necessary.
3 – If you believe that staff having fair pay better serves your education, then we encourage you to support your lecturers by not crossing the picket lines. If you want to join the picket and show solidarity you should. We are told there will be pickets on all campuses from 7am on the 31st. You may also wish to join the rally and march in support of the campaign from noon at Victoria Gardens in the centre of Brighton.
4 – If you want to find out more about the strike there will be open meetings specifically for students on Tuesday 29th October hosted jointly by UCU, Unison and Brighton SU at which the reasons behind the strike action will be discussed.
· Moulsecoomb – Cockcroft 311a, 1-2pm
· Falmer – Mayfield House 129, 1-2pm
· Grand Parade – Pavilion Parade B4, 1-2pm
· Hastings – HAP402, 1-2pm
We know that strike action is a last resort and for many is an emotive subject. As such we ask that all members of our community be treated with respect. Regardless of whether or not they support industrial action, all Brighton staff and students have the right not to be harassed on campus. We do not condone (or expect) threatening or abusive actions or language committed by students, either in attempting to cross the picket line or in persuading others not to do so.
Our position laid out above echoes that of the National Union of Students. As such we do hope that this strike action on the 31st October will lead to a speedy resolution to the ongoing pay dispute, and in such a way that provides a fair and sustainable settlement to higher education staff and by supporting this action the longer term interests of our membership will be better served.
Candice Armah Students’ Union President
T: 01273 643196 E: email@example.com