UCU Strike Action: A Betrayal of Students
On the 22nd February, the University and College Union began a month long strike action against Universities UK, in protest over the changes to their pension scheme.
As a 3rd year student at the University of York, I have been left without any of my dissertation supervisors and lecturers, and will continue to be without until April. With deadlines looming, and the prospect of my graduation being delayed for months, I am absolutely furious with the UCU strike action.
Their political games will negatively impact the students across almost 70 universities nationwide, forcing students to reconsider their study options. The Union, and those striking themselves, are betraying not only the students who are trying to complete their studies, but the contract that they, and we as young consumers, signed up for when we started our courses. This breach in contract is estimated to cost hundreds of thousands nationwide, yet not a single university has broached the possibility of compensation, leading many students to feel abandoned by their student unions and university administrations.
A statement on their website states:
Last week talks between UCU and the employers’ representative Universities UK (UUK) ended without agreement and UUK’s plans to transform the scheme were forced through by the chair’s casting vote.
The dispute centres on UUK’s proposals to end the defined benefit element of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension scheme. UCU says this would leave a typical lecturer almost £10,000 a year worse off in retirement than under the current set-up.
In the recent strike ballot UCU members overwhelmingly backed industrial action. Overall, 88% of members who voted backed strike action and 93% backed action short of a strike.
General secretary Sally Hunt said: ‘Staff who have delivered the international excellence universities boast of are understandably angry at efforts to slash their pensions. They feel let down by vice-chancellors who seem to care more about defending their own pay and perks than the rights of their staff.
‘Strike action on this scale has not been seen before on UK campuses, but universities need to know the full scale of the disruption they will be hit with if they refuse to sort this mess out.’
This statement demonstrates the unions lack of remorse or regret for the impact it has on students, and it is infuriating that they seem to have no regard for how this will effect students.
If we break down the advantages those in academia receive compared to most in other sectors, it is very clear that these academics have no idea what they are crying over. University lecturers and tutors get, on average, 7 months off a year, compared to most in any other sector who get around 1 month spread across an entire year.
For academics to take strike action with no consideration for how other sectors work, or how well they are treated on average, demonstrates a complete lack of understanding and appreciation for their job role. To abandon students in such a way is not just demoralising to students, who have learnt to trust those teaching us, but is also a clear example of how narrow minded and ignorant these teachers are.
Myself, and my course friends, feel let down by our university, and are ashamed of our educational institution at this moment in time. We feel betrayed by our academics, and are worried about how the next few months will play out. We are shocked and disgusted by the way our lecturers and tutors have behaved, and are demanding compensation for the contact hours lost.