UCU strikes: We asked people on the Lancaster picket lines why it’s important to be there

‘We need to stand together against the marketisation and support the strikes’

As almost all students are probably aware of by now, lecturers and university staff across the country are back on the picket lines for another round of strikes, from Wednesday 15th – Friday 17th March, and then again next week from Monday 20th – Wednesday 22nd March.

This is a part of the ongoing dispute between the UCU and employers regarding better pay, pensions and the end of insecure contracts in the face of the cost of living crisis. Strikes had previously been paused whilst talks were being held between the union and universities.

We went to the picket lines on Wednesday morning to speak to students and members of staff about why they thought it was important to be there and show their support.

When asked, one student responded: “It’s really important that students come out and support the lecturers, because they’re on strike for their working conditions and and the fact that they’re overworked and underpaid, along with the growing inequalities in universities.

“It’s important that we support the lecturers in the fight to change that because the condition that they work in directly affects the quality of our education. So if a lecturer is overworked, they’re not going to able to put in the time to care for students who are struggling. If they’re getting underpaid, they’re not going to be able to put in enough effort on the course.

“You see a lot of people going around talking about how strikes are disruptive. What’s really disruptive is the fact that the uni is being run for profit rather than for the well-being of students and staff, so we need to stand together against that marketisation and support the strikes that are going on right now.”

A member of staff told us that it was important to them to come so that they could “show solidarity. I’ve been coming to the picket lines for quite a few years now, about the same situation, so it’s still going on. I think it’s important to show the VC and the university that we mean business.”

We asked if they could imagine an ideal response from the university, what would it look like to them? The member of staff laughed, and responded: “In my mind, since I’ve been working here (which is quite a few years!) it’s gone from being about education to being about the corporate business model, and that’s not what a university should be like in my mind. So looking after and looking out for the academics and the staff.”

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