Students launch rent strikes

Published on: Sun, 29/03/2020 - 22:30

Maisie Sanders

Universities have been among the worst offending employers of the crisis so far.

Sussex University has effectively sacked all staff on temporary contracts. King's College London, despite an easy "do what you can, don't worry" attitude to its academic staff, has sacked cleaner and UVW activist Percy Yunganina for missing a hearing that he didn’t attend due to government social distancing guidelines.

Cleaners at the University of London have had their hours and therefore pay cut by half. Catering staff at the University of Essex have been laid off with no guarantee of pay, as have outsourced

Students: after the strike, into the shutdown

Published on: Wed, 18/03/2020 - 07:56

Maisie Sanders

The fourth week of the strikes by the UCU university staff union (9 to 13 March) saw twelve student occupations: UCL, University of the Arts London, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Imperial, Manchester, Exeter, Brighton, Glasgow, Nottingham and the Royal College of Art.

Sussex students blockaded multiple university car parks, Exeter students disrupted an open day, and Leeds students held a sit-in during a University Senate meeting, forcing it to be adjourned to a non-strike day. The Cambridge occupation expanded to take three floors of the Old Schools building, including the office of Chief

Students ramp up support for UCU strikes

Published on: Wed, 11/03/2020 - 10:05

Maisie Sanders

In the last week of the strikes by the university workers’ union UCU (9-13 March), students are escalating solidarity actions.

By the end of Monday 9 March there were eleven universities in occupation: UCL, University of the Arts London (UAL), Cambridge, Royal College of Art (RCA), Edinburgh, University of Nottingham, Manchester, Brighton, Exeter, Imperial, and Liverpool.

The occupations at Imperial and Liverpool have been organised by Extinction Rebellion Universities to demand universities decarbonise, decolonise and democratise, as well as standing in solidarity with the UCU strike. There

Selina Todd and the Twitter storm

Published on: Wed, 04/03/2020 - 11:12

A social media storm broke out after a feminist conference in Oxford on 29 February asked Oxford University historian Selina Todd to hand over her two-minute opening address to a colleague, following threats by some speakers to boycott the event.

Todd is associated with Women’s Place UK, which was set up to oppose progressive reform of laws on transgender rights.

In a strange twist, WPUK types demanded the AWL immediately denounce the "disinvite". But none of us even knew about the event, let alone had involvement in it!

And our position on such things is clear: we support trans rights, but

UCU: taking the struggle forward

Published on: Wed, 04/03/2020 - 10:46

How to continue after Easter

By a UCU activist

As I write, negotiations with the employers are ongoing, and we’re told they’re “constructive”, but we have no further detail beyond that.

Greater transparency in these negotiations is essential; rank-and-file members of the union need the right to scrutinise and assess what the employer is putting on the table, and collectively decide how to respond.

Lively pickets are being organised in many places, but on the whole the pickets since 24 February seem smaller than the October-November 2019 strikes, and than the USS pension strikes in 2018. Some

Students and the UCU strike

Published on: Wed, 04/03/2020 - 07:47

Rachael Baylis, Brighton University

The second wave of (UCU) University and College Union strikes, taking place from 20 February, has been bigger and more active than the ones that took place before Christmas. Student activity has turned up a notch, with students from arts courses and the humanities in particular organising demonstrations of support.

At my university (Brighton), before the strike began, there was an open meeting in which staff gave presentations on strikes and the history of collective action. Fascinatingly, the overwhelming majority of those present were women. Following the presentations, students discussed

University strikes going into third week

Published on: Wed, 26/02/2020 - 11:10

Chris Reynolds and Sacha Marten

The strikes by university workers in the UCU union over their “four fights” go into their third week on 2-5 March, and their fourth on 9-13 March.

The “four fights” are pay, equality, workload, and decasualisation. While vice-chancellors and celebrity professors enjoy high pay, junior university workers often have casual and insecure conditions, and low pay.

The Cambridge branch of the UCU, for example, points out that the university vice-chancellor is on ÂŁ492,000 a year, while a library assistant is on ÂŁ20,130, an IT technician on ÂŁ23,067, and a research assistant on ÂŁ26,715.

A reader reports

Students back UCU strike

Published on: Wed, 26/02/2020 - 08:38

Maisie Sanders

Students have been joining the university workers’ union UCU on picket lines, organising stalls, leafletting, banner drops, joint rallies, teach-outs and fundraising gigs, and taking part in direct action.

Through the Student Strike Solidarity group, students across the country are discussing demands, tactics and sharing resources. In the run up to the strike, Student Strike Solidarity held days of action to start building student support and regular online

meetings. Next, we are planning a national meeting after the strikes to discuss how we can build on the momentum and rebuild the student

Stop these university cuts!

Published on: Wed, 05/02/2020 - 10:13

Cathy Nugent

As the UCU prepares for another round of strike action, and a further 14 universities vote to take part, more universities face potentially devastating cuts.

While there is a ÂŁ1 billion surplus across higher education, those resources are unevenly distributed and over the last few years many universities have faced cuts.

Recently the University of Sunderland said it will close its history, politics and language courses, in line with a policy that all subjects need to be “financially sustainable”.

SOAS University of London has curtailed research leave and sacked its non-permanent academic staff

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 29/01/2020 - 08:33

Ollie Moore and Darren Bedford

Although the action is yet to be announced, the next round of the university and college union (UCU) dispute appears set for the second half of February.

Where strike ballots exist, they are either related to action defending the USS pension scheme, or over casualisation, pay, workloads and equalities (the “four fights”), however in most universities live ballots exist for both disputes simultaneously. A further 37 branches are currently being re-balloted, which alongside the live 98, would significantly enhance the strike’s impact, which in November and December saw thousands of UCU members

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