Leicester students vote to support UCU strike action
Students at the University of Leicester have voted in favour of supporting this week’s UCU strike action, according to a statement released by Leicester Students’ Union (SU) this afternoon.
The SU survey had a majority of 58.42% in favour of supporting strike action, with a total of 481 votes.
The UCU are striking for three days between 1-3 December over the ‘Four Fights’ – improved working conditions, increased pay, closing of equality pay gaps and an end to casualisation.
The statement from the SU said: “We don’t believe that prolonging this dispute is in students’, staff’s or the University’s best interests.”
This week’s strikes are the most recent of ongoing industrial action spanning several years. This follows a bitter dispute earlier this year which involved UCU calling for a global boycott of the University in May.
“We will be working with the relevant stakeholders to help end this dispute and achieve fair working conditions for all, as well as prioritising minimising any impact on the student experience and education” the SU stated, in a desire for settlement between parties.
“We want to reach an amicable resolution to the situation that benefits all involved parties and ensures students learning conditions are not affected.”
“We don’t believe that prolonging this dispute is in students’, staff’s or the University’s best interests.”
The survey was distributed by the SU last week to gather student opinion on strike action and form a public stance. Of 481 votes which were ‘verified against registered student accounts’, 281 students voted in favour of SU support of UCU staff.
In an infographic shared to the SU social accounts on 30 November, the voting breakdown highlights a 58.42% majority in favour of the SU supporting UCU strike action, while 29.94% voted for public opposition of the strikes, leaving just 11.64% voting in favour of SU neutrality.
A press release distributed by Leicester University and College Union (LUCU) on Monday 29 November outlines the reasons behind the dispute: “[University of Leicester staff] will walk out to join 57 other UCU branches in defence of the four fights: 1) Improved working conditions; 2) Closing of equality pay gaps; 3) Increased pay; and 4) An end to casualisation.”
Leicester UCU also directly address the recent ‘Student Update’ circulated by Geoff Green, Registrar and Secretary at the University of Leicester.
The email, distributed to all University of Leicester students last Thursday 25 November, accused ‘this action by UCU’ of ‘targeting students’, to which LUCU respond: “We are not targeting students. We are targeting these unbearable teaching conditions—which are also students’ learning conditions. We are fighting a race to the bottom in higher education, in the interests both of staff and students, present and future.”
Prior to the SU vote, the University appealed to students to consider four points: disruption to teaching, the targeting of students in strike action, the UCU’s proposed pay award costing the University ‘approximately £14 million per annum’ being ‘not affordable’, and the final point simply offers data on the median income of some professional roles, in relation to Higher Education Teaching Professionals.
The SU statement provides details as to how students can support striking staff, by joining the picket line ‘at the Victoria Park Entrance to campus, on the 1st-3rd December at 8:30am and march in solidarity at 11am from Entrance 2 (University Road)’.
University of Leicester are yet to release a public statement regarding the SU’s stance.
This article is part of ongoing coverage into the strike action – information will be updated accordingly as it comes.
Ella Johnson is a MA Digital Media & Society student and English graduate, currently acting as LSM President and Lifestyle Editor. She is passionate about current affairs and pop culture.
Feature Image: @ellajohnson8
SU statement images sourced via Instagram