Leicester Students Back Striking Staff for Another Year

Students at the University of Leicester have voted to support upcoming University College Union (UCU) strike action, according to a statement released by Leicester Students’ Union (SU) on Monday afternoon.

The results of this student vote saw 62% of “323 verified student voters” opt to stand with UCU members taking industrial action regarding pay, pensions and working conditions.

The outcome of this poll, which closed on Sunday evening after remaining open for almost a week, means that the SU will now be “vocally supporting UCU” when strike action takes place on 24, 25 and 30 November.

Action taking place within the University forms part of a national campaign, with 70,000 staff at 150 institutions taking part in what Jo Grady, General Secretary, describes as “the biggest week in [UCU] history.”

The SU statement reads: “Students have voted overwhelmingly in favour of supporting the UCU and therefore we will be joining UCU on the picket line, encouraging students to do so as well, and supporting them in their conversations with the University and national governing bodies.”

In an infographic shared to the SU Instagram account on 21 November, the voting breakdown highlights that 201 students voted in favour of the SU supporting UCU strike action, while 83 voted for direct opposition, leaving just 39 voting in favour of SU neutrality.

Student solidarity has risen by 3.58% from last November. However, overall voter engagement is down, with over 150 less students participating in the poll compared to last year.

Although UCU action against working conditions has now reached the national stage, hostilities between the University of Leicester and Leicester UCU have spanned across several years, with many students now having experienced strike action throughout the entirety of their university experience.

From fierce backlash against ongoing cuts and compulsory redundancies, to numerous allegations of bullying and intimidation by management, the bitter dispute appeared to reach boiling point last year, with UCU calling upon a global academic boycott of the University.

Copy of an email distributed to students on Monday afternoon.

A statement from UCU, circulated to students via SU email, reads: “We don’t strike lightly. Not only will all those taking part lose three days’ pay—we are also committed to providing excellent teaching and research. This is a last resort.

“The cost-of-living crisis means, in real terms, we have lost 10% of our wages—over a month’s pay—this year. That’s on top of the 25% we’ve lost since 2009. Our pensions are also being slashed.”

They reiterate that: “our teaching conditions are students’ learning conditions” and frame the upcoming action as “a fight to defend standards in education.”

The SU has encouraged students to “let the University hear your support loud and clear.” More information on how to support striking staff, including where to join them on the picket line, is available here.

The University of Leicester was contacted for statement but indicated that they would not be commenting on the student vote, instead directing attention to their initial media statement.

Ella is a BA English graduate and postgraduate student, studying MA Digital Media & Society. She enjoys keeping up with pop culture and is particularly interested in the complex relationship between media consumption and mental health. Find her on Instagram here and Twitter here.

Feature Image: Ella Johnson

Editor-in-Chief at Leicester Student Magazine | Website | + posts

22 | Leicester/Coventry

Ella Johnson

22 | Leicester/Coventry

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