06 March 2020

Striking - again

It seems like there’s a strike going on more often than that there is not! We striked in November, and in March, and now we’re back at it. And why was that again? The Union has four gripes: Pensions, Contracts, Pay and Workload.

The pensions thing has to do with that the universities and union disagree about how they should be sorted; there has been independent advice, but the universities didn't listen to that.

Contracts at universities are becoming increasingly precarious. I have felt it myself with a string of contracts lasting shorter than a year (like this and this), and I've seen it around me too. And it seems I haven't seen nothing yet; there are schools where zero hour contracts are the norm. And that's not right.

The pay issue concerns pay that hasn't kept up with inflation. And a clanging pay gap between the genders and the various ethnicities. And not much in sight that indicates a change.

The workload is something I complain about a lot. We have to recruit more and more students, but we rarely get more staff to deal with them. And we lose support staff left and right. And I know the university needs the students, but I am not convinced they are powerless to address the workload issue. I remember from an earlier round of strikes that the union had offered pay cuts so we could do the same work with more people, and the university wasn't having it! And they have a habit of throwing money in badly managed building projects. That could be done better too!

So I'm on strike again. I waited until the third week I must confess. The first strike day was on the day of our Parys Mountain trip. The second was the day before an Open Day. And the next three were during reading week. We have no contact hours then; nobody would notice us striking! And we wouldn't manage to prepare anything. The idea is that when the strike stops because an agreement has been reached, everything goes back to normal. And if you have been on strike during reading week then you don't have your lectures and tutorials and exams ready and everything goes to pot. Bad idea!

I picked a day with lectures. I struggle to cancel tutorials! And the second semester has loads of tutorials. And well, yes, I did do work at home. But the lectures were cancelled and I won't receive pay, and that's enough to get a message across. Let's see if this goes anywhere!

No comments: