Published on November 5, 2013 | by Laure Fourquet0
Students support staff strikesUAL lecturers and non-academic staff have taken part in a national strike over pay cuts.
The UCU (University and College Union), Unison and Unite coordinated the first ever nationwide joint strike on October 31, leading to cancelled classes and tutorials.
Union members formed picket lines outside UAL’s college entrances in the morning and rallied in front of the London School of Economics (LSE) in Holborn around midday.
Staff representing all employees from academics to cleaners staged the one-day strike following disagreements over the one per cent raise offered to university staff, which they said represents a 13 per cent pay cut in real terms since October 2008.
Gary Horne, UCU staff representative and course director of MA Journalism at LCC, said: “The fact that employers refused to consider what we think is a decent request for a pay rise in line with the inflation justifies the action taken by the unions.
“There are groups of people in this university who get less than the normal living wage. They may be paid the minimum wage, but the living wage for London is more than that.”
Horne added: “The sad thing is that we’re all stood outside the college today when we really would like to be teaching. That’s the only option left to us.”
When asked to comment on staff wages, Natalie Brett, head of LCC, said her contract would not allow her to give an answer.
Shelly Asquith, SUARTS president, said of the strikes: “It’s not really fair when frontline staff, the staff that students interact with everyday, are effectively getting pay cuts.”
Tom Pinney, a third year photography student at LCC, thinks students should show solidarity with the staff: “They deserve our support. And likewise, it affects students’ interests too.”
Following the strike, UCU wrote a letter to UCEA, the university employers’ negotiating body, calling for urgent talks to resolve the dispute: “in such a way that provides a fair and sustainable settlement to higher education staff.”