Don't forget the REAL cause of strikes
For a few centuries now it has been something universally accepted by some that it’s imperative to strike – noun: cause maximum disruption to a workplace – when your paymaster’s […]
For a few centuries now it has been something universally accepted by some that it’s imperative to strike – noun: cause maximum disruption to a workplace – when your paymaster’s arrogant folly goes beyond its usual borders and colleagues have assented to a protest after lengthy discussions and voting.
Given the time and attention students put in to their studies whilst undertaking a degree here at the University of Southampton, notwithstanding the stress involved, it’s not surprising to hear negative first reactions to news that staff have balloted for strikes, some of which fall during exams. Nevertheless, it’s important to remember the wider sequence of events in which the strike is happening. The disruption is essentially the result of a series of exchanges between unions broadly representative of University employees, and belligerent management.
The best way to locate a workers strike is via its opposition to manager’s understanding (or lack thereof!) of workplace fairness:
(1) There exists a fundamental disparity between the strikers and management – pay – which holds a position of utmost priority for the workers, particularly the lowest paid; (2) Continued negotiations bring about the possibility of resolving this antagonism if the University management accepts modest demands, or it will continue to be disputed through industrial action.
Members have seen their pay cut in real terms by 13% since 2009 and “despite having the ability to pay more, the employers refuse to improve their 1% final offer for 2013/14”, which is why the unions are continuing to strike. Moreover, it should be pointed out that guardians of the public sector don’t have consistent faith in their own mantra of austerity, such as our VC, who recently elected to give himself more in a bonus than many staff earn in a year.
To give voice and representation to the plight of staff on ‘poverty pay’, whose income doesn’t equate to a living wage, some students are themselves protesting Don Nutbeam’s ‘self-allotted payrise’. Even the mantra of performance-related pay can’t explain it – we have consistently gone down in the world rankings since his appointment. It is purely cynical.
It should be obvious by now that the enormous material and social benefits enjoyed by senior management staff amongst themselves, in scandalous abuse of their absolute power, offends the most popular standards of political and social justice. And that is why we should direct our bad feelings not at staff, but at management, who have let this go on for too long.
Are you supporting Uni staff on the fourth strike we’ve seen this year? Let us know in comments.