The strike is over, but the militancy remains. Graham Kirkwood reports from Newcastle
After eight days strike action, lecturers, researchers and support staff in the University and College Union at 60 universities across the UK returned to work on Thursday. UCU branches around the UK have reported an increase in the numbers active this time compared to last year’s pension dispute.
Here at Newcastle University we have seen many more young workers on casual contracts drawn into the dispute for the first time and have recruited over 100 new members in less than a month. Our end of strike branch meeting yesterday was packed out with a buoyant mood and a feeling that much had been achieved. And support from students has been magnificent. Student support on the picket line
Comment on the now scrapped dress code
The employers, Universities and Colleges Employers Association, have conceded that despite years refusing to discuss structural issues, they are now willing to discuss the issues in our dispute of workload, inequality and casualisation in addition to pay. On the other dispute over pensions there has been little movement.
We are now working to contract which crucially means lecturers not rescheduling any teaching missed during the strikes.
Colleagues understand that this dispute is unlikely to be resolved with a single burst of strike action and it is likely that more will be necessary in the new year. The union is in a much stronger position now than it was before the strikes started. The mood on the picket lines is that now is our time to see off this pernicious business model built on precarious contracts, inequality and excessive workload once and for all.
Joint action with climate strikers
All photos are from the UCU strike in and around the Newcastle University and are by Graham Kirkwood.
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