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Pension cuts are just The precarious workers
Who are we? We are students, we are teachers, we are professional

the tip of the iceberg:

and administrative staff, we are researchers. We teach seminars, we
clean the buildings, we do research, we run the cinema, we mark
essays, we deal with bureaucracies, we work in the shops in town, in

the future of higher

the restaurants and in the pubs.

Our contracts are casual. That is a nice word to say they are shit. They

education is at stake!
are renewed by the month or year, so we don’t have any safety in the
future beyond this. To stay in the game we have to move from
university to university, contract to contract, always lingering at the
edge, trying not to fall off. We constantly worry about whether we can
We are the University. pay next month’s rent, about the visa that needs to be renewed, about
how we will manage to pay back our university loans, the application
We are the ones who teach, who do research, who for the next precarious job or simply falling ill.
want to learn. Striking is learning. It teaches us
solidarity, self-empowerment and collective action. That’s why we say that this strike is not just about pensions, we don’t
This document is a moment of learning, researching even know if we will ever get one. This is about us speaking out! It is
about questioning the vice-chancellors and their extortionate wages.
and teaching; an essay, a thesis, a manifesto. This is about defending our right to learn, teach and research. This is
about our desires and the better imagining of the university: our
The current strike about pensions is only the tip of the iceberg. It's university!
another step in dismantling our universities and taking the business
model of education to its logical conclusion. Already a regressive
tax is imposed on students, with exorbitant tuition fees and interest
bearing debt. On top of that, half of academic staff teaching
students are on zero-hour contracts, rather than paid a fair wage on
a fair contract. All while permanent staff’s wages have dropped
against inflation.
Students and teachers are interdependent, we are symbiotic: what
affects one, affects the other. Learning is damaged as students are
being taught by teachers whose working conditions are getting
worse everyday. On the one hand lecturers have increasing
workloads, increasing numbers of students to teach, mark,
supervise etc. On the other, student teachers - who are also doing
full-time research - are swamped in precarious teaching. But still
student fees have skyrocketed. All while executive managers get
extortionate wages and pay rises for doing little more than
exploiting us all.

They tried to bury us. They didn't know that

we were seeds
UKC executive management’s reaction to industrial action has been
very punitive and one of the most aggressive in the UK. Management is
trying to undermine our efforts by attacking the university’s most
vulnerable staff. Permanent staff will receive pay cuts per strike day,
while GTAs, HPLs, and AALs will be docked per the hour we did not
teach because of participating in our legal right to strike. In many cases
this means losing almost two months’ pay for taking part in this strike.
This is unfair treatment of teaching staff in different positions.
This retributive action by the management aims not only to discourage
solidarity with permanent staff, but will also force us to cover for their
classes. Executive management misinformed students, claiming that
It is about common good, not business talks would end well, while the staff union was nationally confirming
industrial action. They also lied to students when they promised
Don’t get us wrong: we love what we do. We love teaching, we love rescheduling. Management even ruthlessly tried to bribe us by offering
learning, we love research. But we need to stop universities from to withhold punitive deductions if we returned to classrooms.
becoming businesses. Stop the profit-oriented mantra, where
Executive management are trying to divide and conquer by turning us
education is a commodity and students are customers. Where its a
against each other; precarious staff against permanent staff; students
machine for profit, building the basis for a society of precarity for
against teachers. Our response was firm: #ThankyouDavidbutN0!
the many and privilege for the few; cheap wages for workers (incl.
pensions cuts) and higher fees for students (mostly pocketed by
executive management!). There are two ways forward: either we lower
our heads and passively observe our university
The axing of student grants in 1998 and the introduction of £1,000
tuition fees started a series of attacks on access to and the becoming a business, or we stand up as a
purpose of higher education. Tuition fees have since increased to community and we reclaim the university and
over £9,000. If we don’t act the worst is yet to come. We are being
pushed to the precarious edge by a failing business model. education as a common good. Let’s take our
Executive management at UKC are currently going with the failing
higher education back!
model. ‘Sustainability’ as they have greenwashed it, means
austerity and precarity. Let’s push back and create common good;
not loans and customers, but teaching and learning; not universities
selling degrees, but public and accessible education. It’s about a
diverse community of people shaping our university through
conviviality, democracy and, quite simply, fair pensions, fair pay
and no fees.