You will know this already, but we’re planning strike action again on 24th, 25th and 30th November.
This time, we’ll be striking alongside UCU at virtually every university and about 20 UNISON branches with a strike mandate.
The Vice-Chancellor’s recent email recognised that the planned industrial action “stems from genuine concerns about the cost of living”. It is also about higher education funding. We know that the University of Brighton can’t easily afford a significant pay rise, both this year and into the future, but that doesn’t mean a correct response would be to call off our campaign and accept massive real-terms pay cuts.
We owe it to our members, (who have overwhelmingly voted to take action), and the students, to fight for an education system where members of staff are adequately rewarded for the work they do. Of course we don’t want to disrupt students’ education, but their education is already being disrupted by a system that is underfunded and is getting worse.
It’s not just higher education. Schools, hospitals, local authorities are all in various states of financial distress after years of under-funding. Many are on the verge of bankruptcy, and many will not get through the next few years at this rate without significant changes.
Some would argue that to demand better wages is irresponsible when the university clearly can’t afford it, but this is the logic that accepts worse wages and working conditions to keep our employer afloat. It impoverishes our members further whilst avoiding the real issue.
We’re not demanding a massive pay rise, but a pay rise that is not a real-terms pay cuts and does something to address the years of falling pay. We’re also demanding adequate funding for public services in general and universities in particular. We’d welcome the Vice-Chancellor joining us in that demand, but we also want her to tell UCEA that we deserve more and that we should be paid more.
We’d hope that the latest round of strike action delivers that message rather than university leaders passing on funding cuts to their staff and their students.