How Students Can Strike Too

Staff in 61 UK universities plan to strike for a total of 14 days over proposed pension changes which will leave the average lecturer £200,000 worse off over the course of their retirement. Rather than having a guaranteed income in retirement, Universities UK (UUK) plan to vary staff pensions depending on changes in the stock market.

The University and College Union (UCU) has tried to negotiate with UUK but so far an agreement has not been reached and strike action is now necessary.

Unless an agreement is reached soon, strikes will be taking place on:

Week one – Thursday 22 and Friday 23 February (two days)

Week two – Monday 26, Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 February (three days)

Week three – Monday 5, Tuesday 6, Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8 March (four days)

Week four – Monday 12, Tuesday 13, Wednesday 14, Thursday 15 and Friday 16 March (five days)

You can see here all the days in which strikes will be taking place at your university.

Why should students be concerned?

Put simply, if teaching becomes an undesirable profession because of insecure pensions, there will be fewer lecturers, meaning reduced quality in teaching. The best people will not be attracted to the profession. Furthermore, no worker should have to beg for a fair pension under any circumstance.

So how can students help their lecturers defend their pensions?

1- Share useful links and information on social media. To students that haven’t researched the strike, it may seem as though the whole situation is one big inconvenience. It will be extremely helpful to the cause if you can share information that will help students understand why this strike must take place.

2- Have all of your work done or create a study plan that means you don’t have to cross the picket line on strike days. Crossing the picket line includes everything from nipping to the library to attending classes on campus. If you have an assignment due or are planning to study, you must ensure you take out any necessary books and use the university facilities on non-strike days.

3- Support your lecturers. Don’t be a student who moans about missing a class or tries to claim they’re owed compensation. Let your lecturers know that you think they’re doing the right thing.

4- Complain to the vice chancellor. This could take the form of emails or letters, either sent from an individual or from an entire class or year group.

5- Join student demonstrations. There may be groups of lecturers and students protesting around the University town or at the picket line. If it’s possible and you feel strongly enough to do so, join in with the action. Demonstrations may not just be in the form protests. Many members of staff may be losing out on a lot of pay in their fight for fairness. Holding/joining a strike fundraiser to support staff will be really helpful to staff who are undecided on whether to strike or not because of financial worries.

While you decide how you’re going to fight for your lecturers’ rights, I’ll leave you with this: