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Why strike? Why support?


So, in November last year, I wrote about how much my lecturers mean to me. That subject came up because they were on strike.  I intended to write more about the strikes themselves, but ADHD yo. Guess what?  Nothing was resolved.  Thems in charge still suck hairy balls.  So, we're back to striking.  I figure this gives me time to cover why we're striking. There are four points being disputed:
  1. Pay inequality
  2. Rising workloads
  3. Job insecurity
  4. Pay devaluation

Pay Inquality

This bit I am going to take from my previous writing on Medium...

The definition of equal pay, as used by UCU is:

Employers must give men and women equal treatment in the terms to conditions of their employment contract if they are employed to do:

* ‘like work’ — work that is the same or broadly similar

* work rated as equivalent under a job evaluation scheme

* work found to be of equal value in terms of effort, skill or decision making

Sounds simple enough. You do a job. You get paid the amount that that job is worth. Right? The 2017 Gender Pay Gap Regulations require large employers to reveal their gender pay sta

tistics, but there is no such regulation for disclosing BAME pay statistics.

Unless, of course, you have XX chromosomes instead of XY chromosomes. Or if your skin colour is white or any other colour. Or if you come from a particular ethnic background. Those things affect your ability to do a job, and therefore you should be paid differently.

Wait… that bit isn’t in the description is it?

According to analysis by Times Higher Education, in 2019 female university employees were earning a mean hourly wage that was, on average, 15.1% less than their male counterparts.

In real, easy to digest terms, if a man is earning £100, then a woman is earning £84.90.

Male/Female Pay Gap

Now to look at Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) pay.

Falling into the BAME category puts you on average earning 9% less than your white counterparts. If you are, more specifically, black, it is 14% less. In Russell Group universities it was found

to be an average of 26% less. Over 1/4 less to do the same job, because of a different quantity of melanin in their skin.

BAME Pay Gap

When a white man can be earning substantially more than a black woman for an equal job, things ar

e wrong.

Rising Workloads

Say you have a 2500 word essay to grade.  You read it, you comment, you figure out grading etc.  It may take you 30 minutes, it may take you an hour - it depends on the essay.  You have to get them all graded, so you do the work.  It's chill, you're paid for that stuff, right? Nope.  You're paid for your contracted hours.  If it takes you 3 times as long, that's a you problem. You have a student arrive at your office in tears, but you have a whole list of other things to get done.  Do you leave the work?  Do you turn the student away?  You know you won't be paid any extra.  Lecturers aren't in this career because they want the shiny loots, they want to educate, so they will do both. It isn't just lecturers, but all university staff.  The amount of work expected keeps increasing, but the hours provided to do it in remains the same, leading to major stress which then affects physical health, mental health, and the rest of their lives outside of work.

Job Insecurity

Many university staff are on zero hours contracts, or fixed term contracts.  They do not know from one contract to the next if their job will be there next time.  They are employed for the term time, but have nothing for the summer months. Some of the lecturers that have had the biggest impact on me are on contracts that mean they have no idea if they will be back to teach again when it expires, or if they will have to start from scratch in a new job. That insecurity again affects their health, their families.  Imagine knowing that you have children to feed, and yet not being certain that you will have a job to manage it?

Pay Devaluation

"The UCU believe the pay of academic staff at universities has dropped by around 17% in ‘real wages’ since 2009 based on findings from the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA)." (taken from How have they decided that? So, inflation goes up, "real wages" go down.  If inflation is at 3% and you get a pay rise of 2%, you're actually down 1% (clear as mud?). In over 40% of colleges, they haven't even given the 1% recommended pay rise over recent years. In contrast, John Vinney - Vice Chancellor at BU - had a 20% pay rise in 2017.  He earns 6.7 times the average salary at BU.


Not everyone is personally affected by all of it, not everyone is personally affected by any of it, but we should be affected by it.  Emotionally.  Morally.  No-one should have to put up with any of this. It is wrong, and I will be fighting alongside those teaching me, as they fight for me every day.

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