On strike for a better Higher Education

Picket line at York St John

Unison and UCU picket line at York St John University

Last Thursday, all staff from across the city’s two universities took strike action against yet another sub-inflation pay deal. In real terms, wages have fallen for years and now many staff face uncertainty in zero-hours or variable-hours contracts. York People’s Assembly supported the action by members of the UCU, Unite and Unison unions, bringing food, drinks and a supportive presence to picket lines around the city. At the University of York, a brief rally took place outside management offices in Heslington Hall. (More photos…)

Students at University of York were keen to support the strike after management announced backing for calls by other top institutions to be allowed to charge £16,000 a year in fees, a further increase on top of the £9,000 fees introduced by the current government. Vice-Chancellors claim this will enable them to invest more in the ‘student experience’.

Students take over the picket line at the University of York

But at a lunch-time meeting in the city centre, staff on strike were keen to point out their central role in creating that experience. At a time when institutions across the UK are ‘cash rich’ and Vice-Chancellors’ pay is increasing rapidly, many are being forced to work more for less without any job security. All of this is happening to make universities more like businesses, which many in the sector see as the end of education as a social good.

Rallying outside Heslington Hall, the offices of the Vice Chancellor and other senior management. Credit: Josiah Mortimer

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