This is information for all Warwick students who would like to know more about why lecturers, librarians, IT and other professional service staff at Warwick are taking industrial action.
For a PDF version click here.
There are two reasons why we are striking:
- First, to protect staff pensions, which are under renewed attack after the 2018 dispute.
- Second, to fight for the rights of casualised, female and BAME staff. Growing numbers of staff are working on short-term or precarious contracts that don’t pay them enough to make ends meet. There is also a persistent gender and racial pay gap. This means that at Warwick, for instance, women earn 74p for every £1 earned by men and BAME staff are paid an average of 25% less than their white colleagues. This action is about stopping the downgrading of pensions, ending casualisation and closing the gender and racial pay gap.
Our demands are simple:
- Protect staff pensions so that we can retire without facing poverty;
- Pay a £10/hour minimum rate for directly employed staff, and commit to the Living Wage Foundation’s pay rates for the lowest paid on campus;
- Agree to develop a programme to close the gender and BAME pay gap;
- Agree to create a framework to eliminate precarious employment and to tackle rising workloads;
- Ensure that staff pay keeps up with inflation (salaries have fallen 20% on average over the past decade)
These demands are easy to meet. We’re asking UUK (Universities UK, the association of university employers) to work with us to end the rampant levels of inequality in our workplaces and to make sure that people can actually afford to live on the pay for the jobs they do.
We know that you have incurred a large debt to attend university. Many of us fought hard against the meteoric rise of tuition fees. But the high fees you pay are not used to pay more to those who teach you. Gaps in gender and BAME pay, casualisation of staff and erosion of staff pensions are part of a decade-long assault on the integrity of universities as public institutions. As a result, we’ve seen the tripling of student fees, a trend toward short-term or sessional contracts at the expense of secure employment, the greater use of outsourcing models and the ballooning of managerial pay – and with these developments, the persistence of racist and sexist cultures at our university.
If we want an environment committed to fairness and transparency, where teaching, learning and research – not profit – are at the heart of what we do, then we must collectively take a stand.
Teaching and working with students is why we do this job, so we do not take strike action lightly, any more than nurses or doctors do. After eight days of strikes in November and December 2019, the UCU has called for fourteen more days of strikes in February and March: February 20-21, February 24-26, March 2-5 and March 9-13. On these days:
- UCU members won’t be teaching, holding office hours, marking or answering emails
- Any work missed, including teaching, will not be rescheduled
- Since December 4th, UCU members have been observing action short of a strike (ASOS): this means working to contract, or working only the 36.5 hours per week stipulated in our contracts (most academics work 60+ hours, including weekends)
In partnership with Warwick’s Student-Staff Solidarity Network, we will be holding a series of themed events on the picket lines, giving you a chance to join discussions about fees, debt, the future of work and radical alternatives to the status quo. We want you to be part of these activities. Join us! As Emma Goldman almost says, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be in your demonstration.”
Warwick Students Union voted to support the strikes – as individuals you can too.
If you want to help us stop hugely damaging changes to higher education, here are some ideas:
- Talk to your lecturers about the strike (and if they’re not in the UCU, suggest they join!)
- Discuss it with your family and friends (more info: https://www.ucu.org.uk/campaigns)
- Contact Vice-Chancellor Stuart Croft at S.Croft@warwick.ac.uk and ask him to lobby Universities UK to meaningfully negotiate
- Volunteer to help with the campaign by contacting the Student Staff Solidarity Network at firstname.lastname@example.org and https://www.facebook.com/studentstaffsolidarity/
Remember: the more people support the strike, and the more unified that support, the sooner it’s likely to end.
With that in mind, please:
- Boycott lectures and seminars on strike days – do not cross the picket line!
- Join us as sympathetic onlookers/active supporters
- Help organise alternative student-led events
- Get in touch with any questions