We encourage all students to join us alongside staff on the picket lines tomorrow and Thursday, commencing outside the Gatehouse at 8am.  The UCEA have offered staff a paltry pay rise offer of 1.1%, despite a real terms wage decline of 14.5% since 2009 – and all the while salaries of management soar, casualization in the sector continues to proliferate and gendered and racialized inequalities in pay remains firmly entrenched.

With the threats to the sector posed in the recently released White Paper – particularly in its commitment to the introduction of a Teaching Excellence Framework, which will further distort critical and cooperative learning practices in favour of satisfying commercial objectives and spurious metrics, and impose ever-intensifying bureaucratic constraints on over-worked staff – it is vital we express our solidarity with all members of the University community jeopardized by this continuing programme of marketization.  If we are to defeat these consistent attacks on the conditions of staff and students, and defend a public higher education system, we must be ready to engage in this kind of escalation and more.

We must band together with staff and recognize that not only is an attack on their working conditions also an attack on our learning conditions – but that an injury to one is an injury to all.  We will not stand by whilst workers are shafted and exploited by employers and a Government who have no interest in fair negotiations or the wellbeing of our community, and pursue an increasingly ruthless project of cuts, pay repression and erosion of job security to line their own pockets.  We encourage all students to join the picket lines to support staff – but we also encourage a broader fightback which rallies against the assault being waged on education as a public good.

We have organized and agitated with staff throughout the year against the Green Paper and Prevent, fought the cuts to maintenance grants, and won numerous concessions and victories from management, not least an overwhelming democratic mandate from a staff Assembly to fight the attacks on Higher Education.  The industrial action over the next few days must be considered another stage in a local and national strategy to force the government and employers into retreat.  By continuing to maintain strong alliances with staff, standing together in unity and solidarity, we are confident that we can win and reclaim education from the clutches of the market.

We will not be deceived by management rhetoric which attempts to pit students and staff against one another: our interests are fundamentally intertwined and one in the same.  We recognize that the same system which has abolished our grants is also devastating the wellbeing and working conditions of staff.  Workers engaging in this short term disruption are only doing so to defend Higher Education from catastrophic damage in the long term – it is the Government and employers intent on subordinating our education to the interests of profit, not staff, who are our enemies.

Now more than ever, it is essential we organize and fight together towards a vision of education which is just, free and democratic, and reject the Government and management’s vision of a privatised, savagely cut, inequitable system where education is treated as a transaction and staff as disposable service providers.  Students and workers defeated the White Paper in 2011 – and we can do so again.  We have demonstrated this year that change is possible, and that students and workers are willing to fight for it.  We encourage all those who can to join the picket lines to continue to escalate this struggle.


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