University and Colleges Union Leeds Metropolitan University To all Students
Strike Acton: Thursday 31st October The Dispute Unions representing both academic (UCU) and administrative (UNISON and UNITE) staff across the Higher Education (HE) sector have recently balloted to take strike action over pay. The reason for this is that for several years now we have been offered a below inflation pay rise (i.e. a pay cut). Consequently, on a conservative estimate the real value of our pay has declined by 13% since 2008. At the same time the income to universities has increased dramatically. This does not mean that we took the decision to strike lightly. We believe that we have been forced into this position by the failure of university employers, at a national level, to negotiate reasonably. The reduction in our pay is, we believe, part of a broader attempt to commercialise and individualise HE education by treating it as a commodity and students as consumers. This process obscures the fact that education is a social good that benefits society as a whole. All of the unions and the vast majority of staff in universities are opposed to these policies which they believe are a threat to the quality of education.
Thursday’s Strike Our action commences with a UK‐ wide strike of all staff in HE on Thursday. This strike will mean that the University will be largely closed on that day. The dispute will then continue with a 'work‐to‐contract', i.e. we will do precisely, and only, that for which we are contracted and paid. At the most basic, for example, we are paid for a 37‐hour week. In fact, most full‐time tutors work closer to 50 or 60 hours a week. While the dispute continues we will only work our contracted 37 hours, prioritising teaching and supervising students. This means that tasks that cannot be completed within 37 hours will be delayed. Support We urge all students to support us in this campaign. We would like you to join us on our picket lines on Thursday, and to discuss the campaign in your classes and groups. If you would like a lecturer to come to explain the situation to you, please contact Leeds Met UCU Branch Secretary Paul Blackledge firstname.lastname@example.org
Students and industrial action Our action is aimed at the employers, not at students. We will do all that we can to ensure that we minimise the effect on your education while concentrating on the employers' administrative processes. Nevertheless, it is bound to have some adverse effect on you (for instance because our pay will be docked for any days on strike, classes cancelled because of strike action will NOT be rearranged for another day).
Moreover, while we are certainly engaged in a struggle to defend the conditions of staff in one sector, similar struggles are now happening across many parts of the public and private sectors. In other words, similar pressures are being felt across many areas in which most students are likely to find employment after graduation. This is another reason why it is your interests to stand with us against the Government's austerity agenda. For their project is placing a downward pressure not merely on our salaries but also on your future salaries and conditions of employment.
Teaching quality This is, however, not a case of our self‐interested action against your interests. The quality of our terms and conditions of service partly determine our ability to engage with the educational process. You cannot expect that there will be no negative consequences for staff engagement and enthusiasm when salaries are declining while workloads increase. We consequently believe that it is in your interests that we have the best possible conditions of service.
So supporting the University staff in this campaign is not only the right thing to do it is also in your own long‐ term interests. For this reason we’d be delighted if you join us on our picket lines, and come to our demonstration and rally starting at 11.30 from the Parkinson Steps outside Leeds University.
Thursday 31st October Join the pickets; join the demonstration; join the rally
Tuesday 29th October
Joint Union Rally in support of fair pay 1.00pm, Conference Auditorium 2, Leeds University (all welcome)