‘If they cared, they wouldn’t have let students become homeless’: What UofG staff want you to know about the strikes

UCU action is taking place 24th, 25th, and 30th of November across the UK

Today marks the second day of the UK-wide strikes organised by the University College Union (UCU). These strikes are in support of the pay and pension disputes of university staff. The UCU recorded that over 70,000 members of staff at 150 universities would be taking part and this action could see over 2.5 million students affected.

Strikes have been scheduled for Thursday 24th, Friday 25th, and Wednesday 30th of November and picket lines have been set up outside the Main Gate and in front of the St. Andrews Building with demonstrations also taking place on Buchanan Street on Friday.

We spoke to some of the members of staff taking part from the University of Glasgow.

Rosie, a PhD student and Geography GTA said that she strikes because “there’s no other way for workers to achieve better pay and conditions.” The GTA rep for the Glasgow UCU branch said “our pay has gone down by 25% in real terms since 2009, yet uni surpluses have increased by 100s of millions of pounds.”

Staff have been asking students to not cross the picket line where possible on the above days in support of the strikes.

She also said that students should know that:

“Our working conditions are your learning conditions. Everything is linked to universities being run like businesses, pursuing profit rather than caring about your education.

“If they cared, they wouldn’t let students become homeless, they wouldn’t charge exorbitant tuition fees and they wouldn’t put you in tutorials of 80+ people. Stand with us!”

Adriana, a last-year PhD student in philosophy who works as a GTA for the philosophy and psychology departments at the University of Glasgow, said:

”I’m striking because as a GTA who also teaches senior honours classes, I’m basically a half price lecturer. In some cases, we prepare and deliver material that’s at the same standards than a lecturer but for less. Also, although I have been a GTA for the last 5 years (I started during my masters), I haven’t got any paid rise nor any sort of promotion up the spinal points since my contract is renewed yearly and thus, there’s no scope for progression or promotion.

“For the eyes of the university, GTAs are just PhDs students that need “pocket money”. Although in most cases we are the first point of contact for students, we don’t receive training nor a lot of support from the university.

“I would like students to know that the main reason for the UCU strikes is to fight against working conditions of teaching staff so we can provide better teaching. Just to give an example: we’re paid for marking around 3 essays per hour. That’s not enough for delivering proper constructive feedback that can help the student to improve.”

A University of Glasgow spokesperson said:

“The University of Glasgow recognises the challenges facing our staff because of the cost of living increases. To help address this we have confirmed a pay increase for all staff which is at least double the national settlement, with a minimum uplift of 6%, up to a maximum of 12.9% for lower paid colleagues.

“We have also agreed to work with our campus trade unions to address other related issues they have raised, including concerns about workload, pay equity and security of contract.

“The experience of our student community is a priority for us, and we are committed to ensuring students are not disadvantaged because of the ongoing industrial action. We are also supporting any student left without accommodation as a result of the contraction in the private rental sector. In addition to taking nominations in private residences, we have provided all students who came forward with hotel accommodation and serviced flats.  We have also greatly increased the hardship funds available to those in need.”

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