Here’s everything Jeremy Corbyn said in support of the Cardiff strikes today
Corbyn spoke about the future of higher education for students and teaching staff
Today marks the first day of the UCU industrial strike action and to kick things off Jeremy Corbyn paid a visit to Cardiff. We were there front row to capture all that he said.
Corbyn gave a lot of attention to the position of us students and what the future will look like for us.
He said: "[Students] go to university, they obviously need to enjoy that experience but not leave it with a mountain of debt or deeply stressed out by the experience and pressure. Surely we can do a lot better than we currently do!"
Drawing on the Labour Party's campaign in the recent General Election, Corbyn reiterated their principle to provide "free education from cradle to grave" making higher education more accessible across the UK.
With the objective of the UCU to improve working conditions for teaching staff, Corbyn recognised that "those who clean the colleges, those who maintain the colleges, who teach at the colleges, are one and the same issue and one and the same struggle," urging for fairer treatment among university employees.
He said: "I'm proud to stand here alongside teachers in the dispute they've got, but also to keep our vision up, to keep our ambition up for the kind of society that does care for all."
Corbyn expressed his deep dislike for zero-hour contracts, especially among those employed in higher education.
He stated: "In a former life I used to be an organiser in the public sector […] in those days we used to look upon college lecturers and university lecturers as people who had achieved a good status and a good salary, and a pensionable position, and above all a permanent contract", aligning with UCU members' campaign for better pension schemes.
Corbyn went on to remark: "I never thought I'd see the day when those working, teaching, at a very high level are effectively on zero-hour contracts."
Union members have protested about their high workloads not matching their contract hours, making it difficult to meet deadlines which in turn affect students and their grades.
Corbyn critiqued that due to "the cutbacks, the commercialisation of higher education, the development of shiny new campuses all around the world, the incredible levels of pay of vice chancellors and chief executives compared to the way in which lecturers and teachers are treated" is unreasonable, granting him lots of applause from students and lecturers alike.
"I'm very proud to stand here as the leader of the Labour Party on a picket line in support of teacher in struggle. I think that is the place my party should be, and that is the place we should all be."
Finishing his speech, Corbyn said he was on his way to visit those affected by recent flooding throughout Wales.
If the Prime Minister is not campaigning for votes in a general election, he simply does not care about helping communities affected by flooding.https://t.co/ejbqBlRG7x
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) February 20, 2020
Other speakers at the rally included Kerry Hood, head of a research centre at the university, talking about how working conditions relate to research conditions.
She commented on how the immense pressure people are put under in the university environment restricts them from achieving the highest quality research.
Speaking on behalf of the students, JOMEC PhD student Rachel Philips spoke about how many students understand and support the reasons for the strikes but can't help but feel they are missing out on teaching time.
She explained how despite Cardiff still being a good university, they prioritise investing in new buildings over the suffering of staff.
Testimonies from academic staff were also anonymously read out highlighting the struggles they face in work.