In solidarity with the UCU strikePosted: March 1, 2018
In solidarity with the UCU strike!
The ongoing strike in UK universities, which started on February 22, shows the accumulated anger of university workers against the increasing attacks of employers on labour relations. Even though this widespread attack is officially expressed by the employers’ leadership (UUK), is clearly supported and further deepened by the Conservative government.
Proposed changes aim to directly link pensions to the stock market without any guarantee leading to the loss of up to £10,000 a year from the retirement amount of each employee. Not surprisingly, the attempted restructuring of pensions led to a massive participation in the strike. However, most UCU members voted for the strike, to protest not only against the USS pension system reform, but also against the continuous privatization and financialization of higher education, the increasingly precarious and insecure labour relations in UK universities, manifested in the huge rise in fixed-term contracts and in the stagnation or cuts in wages, and the increasing psychological stress due to the constant requirement to increase productivity.
The 14 days of the strike, which are planned to take place within 4 weeks, open a path of possibilities for the struggle of university workers and for the labour movement. It is the largest-ever strike called in British higher education.
The early days of the strike proved not only the determination of the university workers but also the strength of student solidarity. From the beginning, employers attempted to use the consequences of the strike to the students for intimidating academics that would participate in the strike. The students’ response was their daily presence on the picket lines.
The strike has the potential to initiate a discussion for the content and orientation of the university movement, to strengthen self-confidence in organizing resistance against the marketization of education that tripled fees and cut grants for the poorest students and to contribute to overcoming contradictions within the union by reinforcing radical voices and paths. It can also show the necessity for a wider alliance of workers and students which would lead both to the open questioning of the neoliberal agenda of the Conservative government and the limits of the class compromise that still lies at the core of the Labour’s agenda, putting at the forefront the need for radical alternatives to the increasing attacks to public education in the UK.
For a strong and successful strike!