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‘Understand that this is a last resort’: RHUL lecturers speak about striking for eight days

Along with 59 other universities

Strikes will be taking place across the UK between Monday 25th November and Wednesday 4th December after UCU members voted for strike action in outrage at pensions, working conditions and pay.

Lecturers at RoHo will be following the UCU lead and striking all eight days.

The strikes will focus on changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) and universities' failure to make improvements on pay, equality, casualisation and workloads.

The strikes are not a definite, with a newsletter from Paul Layzell claiming they "remain open to further talks with the UCU."

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The Royal Holloway Tab contacted various lecturers for comments on the upcoming eight-day strike. One lecturer said: "For me, the protection of the well-being of early career academics with regards to the creeping casualisation of workloads is a primary focus, and sorely needs to be addressed.

"Academic staff on part-time or zero-hour contracts rarely, if at all, work to their allotted hours. Their jobs are usually full-time in all but name… Such overwork can seriously impact on mental health, which in turn can have a negative effect on teaching."

Another lecturer told The Royal Holloway Tab: "I hope that my students can agree that they are injustices. Please remember, my working conditions are your learning conditions… Please understand that this is a last resort."

They also explained five simple points of the strikes for those confused as to what the strikes were about:

"1) Gender pay gap: Royal Holloway has the seventh worst gender pay gap in the UK (out of 130 universities).

"2) Pay value: the value of academic salaries has decreased 20% since 2009, with no substantial increase to counter this.

"3) Casualisation: Over 60% of academic staff at RHUL are on fixed-term or zero-hours contracts (including myself). This equates to exploitation of a huge section of the workforce (particularly PhD students), and also undermines Higher Education as an employer for the future.

"4) Workload: Academic jobs are extremely demanding. On average, academic staff work two extra days per week unpaid just to stay on top of the demands of the job. The impacts on health and family life are devastating.

"5) Pensions: The body representing universities, UUK, continues to dispute the valuations of Staff pensions and have gone against the resolution agreed at the end of the 2018 strikes. This directly affects the futures of all staff."

For more information, be sure to check your emails or talk to your lecturers.