We, the undersigned, state our unconditional solidarity with all higher education staff taking industrial action as part of UCU strikes beginning in December 2021.
As campaigning organisations led by and working with students, we reject the divide and rule narratives deployed against striking staff, and we state unequivocally: students support UCU members and their decision to take industrial action. This is not just our own first-hand experience, but is supported by NUS research showing 73% of polled students back the strikes.
We understand that in UK universities, staff working conditions are student learning conditions. Postgraduate students are frequently both, as well as the most precariously employed. The decline of higher education job security and working conditions is not good for staff, students, or the positive impact our university spaces can have on wider society.
As campaigning organisations primarily concerned with the creation of social change, we believe that universities cannot be incubators of the ideas, movements and transformations we want and need them to be while they continue to be sites of worker injustice. Over the last decade, UCU members have seen their pay decline in value by 20%. This injustice is further compounded by gendered and racialised pay gaps. The average gender pay gap at a UK university is 15.5%, while the UK average as a whole is 7.9%.
International students and staff should not be forced to choose between their right to live and work in the UK, and their right to organise in solidarity with workers. Under Home Office guidance, universities are required to monitor and inform the Home Office on the “academic engagement” of all international students. However, universities have complete discretion to decide what to defend as an authorised absence. We demand universities to protect all students’ right to freedom of speech and association and unequivocally declare all absences due to strike action as authorised.
We send our solidarity and hopes for victory to all striking staff. There can be no justice without worker justice.
People & Planet
National Union of Students (NUS)
Students Organising for Sustainability UK (SOS-UK)
PSC Youth & Student